The Hairy Ape | Oracle Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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When: Mondays, Fridays-Sundays. Continues through March 12 2016
Eugene O’Neill’s 1922 expressionist drama gains contemporary resonance in this production cast entirely with black men. Director Monty Cole obviously means to make a connection between the travails of the play’s working-class hero, Yank—regarded by the upper crust as a fearsome brute when he’s not being exploited, ignored, beaten, or thrown in jail by their lackeys—and the issues of racial inequality and violence brought to light by the Black Lives Matter movement. The enterprise is helped considerably by a gripping performance from Julian Parker, whose Yank is equal parts pathos, youthful exuberance, and feverish rage. The only trouble is Cole’s intrusive production design, which is so loaded with atmospheric effects (echoing voices, clanking pipes, eerie lighting) that it’s easy to miss the text. —Zac Thompson
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