Good Black | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Good Black 

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Good Black, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. As part of its 25th-anniversary celebration, ETA has brought back its 1990 hit Good Black, by Pittsburgh playwright Rob Penny. And this revival makes clear why Good Black won "Pick of the Decade" out of ETA's work in the last ten years: a classic feel-good comedy, it's loaded with African-American pride and soul. The protagonist, Dalejean, is a single mother of three in late middle age, working nights as a waitress to keep food on the table and struggling to make sure her kids stay straight. We respect Dalejean's strength and integrity, but we root for her because she hasn't let years of labor and loss kill her desire: Dalejean, who's having an affair with a much younger man, is sexy.

In Penny's predictable plot, the lovers come together and make a happy family despite their insecurity about the age difference and put-downs from those around them. Under Kemati Janice Porter's direction, the ETA ensemble find the truth in their characters' dilemmas and elevate them from Penny's sometimes sitcomlike writing. Donna M. Gilbert absolutely shines as Dalejean, and special applause goes to Marcia Wilson's comic timing as Sister Lou, the Jesus-loving neighbor who protests Dalejean's sinful behavior a bit too much. Good Black is a good play, worth watching to experience and empathize with the characters' journeys, knowing that sometimes stories do end happily ever after.

--Gabrielle S. Kaplan

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