The People's History of the United States | Blue Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Braxton Black

The People's History of the United States 

When: Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 6 2016
Quest Theatre Ensemble, which takes pride in "making theatre accessible to everyone" with free performances, offers an updated version of its 2008 populist pageant. Alternately celebratory and satiric, idealistic and ironic, the show juxtaposes the noble rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barack Obama with musical vignettes dramatizing the darker realities of American history: Native American genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, the Cold War "Red Scare," the atomic bomb, etc. Well performed by a large multiracial cast, the production has an engaging homemade feel thanks to its use of oversize papier-mache puppets and masks. But writer-director Andrew Park's insistent focus on America's shortcomings make the rousing finale—a choral anthem calling on the nation to end gun violence and racial animus—feel more than a little naive. —Albert Williams

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