Flyin' West | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Flyin' West 

Flyin' West

The Edgewater-based Onyx Theatre Ensemble, one of the most impressive new companies to emerge in the last couple of years, has earned a reputation for well-crafted, interesting productions on African-American themes, including its much-lauded East Texas Hot Links and documentary-style examination of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, Unquestioned Integrity. Next week, as part of the Chicago Park District's second season of presenting off-Loop theaters at its Theatre on the Lake, the troupe remounts its 1996 rendition of Flyin' West, Atlanta playwright Pearl Cleage's enormously entertaining play about ex-slaves in 1890s Kansas. Summer has always been a good time for old-fashioned melodrama, and Flyin' West delivers the goods--but with an up-to-date perspective, telling of proud black women fighting to save their homestead from the self-hating mulatto husband of the family's youngest member. Director Ron O.J. Parson's staging features a rich performance by Paulette McDaniels as the tale-spinning, pie-baking matriarch; the way she and the other ladies dispatch the eminently hissable bad guy is a deliciously funny and suspenseful piece of stagecraft. I won't spoil the surprise; see it for yourself. Theatre on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore, 312-742-7994. Opens Tuesday, July 29, 8 PM. Through August 2: Wednesday-Saturday, 8 PM. $9.

--Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still (uncredited).

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
May 28
Performing Arts
July 15

Popular Stories