Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-12-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Bourbon at the Border
by Rick Reed
2003-02-12

This article shared 1099 times since Wed Feb 12, 2003
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Playwright: Abby Mann

At: Victory Gardens, 2257 N. Lincoln

Phone: (773) 871-3000; $30-$35

Runs through: March 2

Freedom Summer, 1964, Mississippi … when thousands of whites and African-Americans descended upon Mississippi to help register African-Americans for the vote. The goal was to liberate brothers and sisters from prejudice and discrimination. Giving them the vote was the first step in making their disenfranchised voices heard.

Pearl Cleage's play, Bourbon at the Border, uses this time as the back-story for a Detroit couple, Charlie (E. Milton Wheeler) and May (Velma Austin), who were part of the efforts during that hot, strife-filled summer. The play, receiving its Chicago premiere, was penned by the author of the novel What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, which was an Oprah Book Club Selection. Ms. Cleage's gift for storytelling and deftness with characterization and dialogue are on ample display in Bourbon at the Border, a powerful and moving story of how we deal with trauma. Cleage has set her story 30 years after Freedom Summer, when May and Charlie, now a middle-aged married couple, have settled into working-class life in Detroit. Charlie has struggled with mental illness, and, when the play opens, a nervous May awaits her husband's return from an institution. Rosa (Cheryl Lynn Bruce), upstairs neighbor and best friend, softens May's anxiety when she pops in, and extols the more reserved May with tales about her latest boyfriend, Tyrone (A.C. Smith). When Charlie appears, we see a flatness of emotion, but an earnestness to return to productive life. The first act of Bourbon at the Border loosens up its audience for the dark turn the second act takes by making us laugh. This ensemble, especially Bruce's effervescent Rosa, is adept at comic timing and Cleage supplies the quartet with ample opportunities for laughter. When Rosa tells May about her interview at a phone sex operation, she nearly brings the house down. But there are hints that something much darker lurks underneath as the characters discuss a series of unexplained murders of white men.

It won't be ruining any surprises to reveal that Charlie is the killer … that point is predictable enough that even the most distracted viewer could figure it out. Cleage's play isn't about being a thriller; it's about the buried anguish that Charlie and May have tried to come to terms with since Freedom Summer, when the pair endured unspeakable atrocities at the hands of racists. Cleage shows us how two people dealt with trauma … May's strength, and Charlie's unraveling. The second act contains few laughs as May and Charlie's world falls apart. It's a breathtaking and moving moment when May reveals the tragedy at the core of her relationship with her husband.

Yet, Bourbon at the Border sets itself up for the trappings of the thriller, and fails in its promise to deliver. While the play's subtext runs much deeper than the events it portrays, it still needs to be free of contrivance to be credible. The fact that Charlie is found to be responsible for the killings because the police discover a piece of paper with his name on it is far too convenient. Added to this is the fact that, while in real life, trauma may burn for years before coming to a head, the telegraphed world of drama requires a trigger for such a momentous deed as murder. Finally, Bourbon at the Border has a problematic, derivative ending that mirrors so closely the final scene of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men that it distracts us from what could be a powerful moment if it was handled in a more original way.

Bourbon at the Border has a lot going for it: an astonishingly talented ensemble, tight direction by Andrea J. Dymond, and a script that, even with its flaws, displays a gift for rendering credible and interesting characters. These reasons alone are enough to make Bourbon at the Border worth seeing, but not enough to hail it as a triumph.


This article shared 1099 times since Wed Feb 12, 2003
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Victory Gardens presents reading of 'exercise your demons,' a play on trauma of a gay male body 2022-01-26
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, IL — Victory Gardens Theater presents the Ignite Chicago reading of exercise your demons: a play on the trauma of a gay male body written by Gage Tarlton and directed by Ryan Dobrin, with movement ...


Gay News

THEATER REVIEW The Moors 2022-01-26
- Title: The Moors. Playwright: Jen Silverman At: A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. Tickets: $30-$40; ARedOrchidTheatre.org. Runs through: Feb. 27 "I've been employed in many houses," declares newly hired Emily, following her arrival at ...


Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions presenting 'The Drag Seed' 2022-01-24
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (January 24, 2022) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to continue its 20th anniversary season with a revival of its popular comedy The Drag Seed, an unauthorized parody of the 1956 psychological horror-thriller ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Pansy Kings performance artist, education advocate Murray McKay 2022-01-20
- Pansy Kings performance artist, education advocate, curator, designer and LGBTQ activist Edward Murray McKay died Jan. 4 of cancer. He was 53. McKay was born Oct. 2, 1968, in Brussels, Belgium. The family moved to Toronto ...


Gay News

THEATER Red Orchid's 'The Moors' running through Feb. 27 2022-01-15
- A Red Orchid Theatre is running Jen Silverman's The Moors, directed by Artistic Director and Ensemble Member Kirsten Fitzgerald, through Feb. 27 at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. The plot is as follows: ...


Gay News

THEATER About Face announces cast of queer-themed 'Laced' 2022-01-14
- About Face Theatre begins its 27th season with the world premiere of Samantha Mueller's drama Laced, running March 17-April 16 at the Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Set in the aftermath of the vandalism of ...


Gay News

Black Ensemble Theatre announces 2022 Season of Excellence: The Season of Healings 2022-01-14
-- From a press release - Chicago, IL—Black Ensemble Theater's Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor announces its 2022 Season of Excellence: The Season of Healings. The 2022 Season includes four World Premiere musicals showcasing the power ...


Gay News

THEATER DuSable, puppet company to run Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye' 2022-01-13
- The DuSable Museum of African American History is partnering with the 4th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to present a production of The Bluest Eye, based on Toni Morrison's 1970 groundbreaking coming-of-age novel. The production will ...


Gay News

THEATER 'This Is Only a Test' Feb. 11-March 12 2022-01-12
- Broken Nose Theatre, a pay-what-you-can theater company, is welcoming back live audiences this winter with the world premiere of Eric Reyes Loo's drama This Is Only a Test, directed by Toma Tavares Langston. The production will ...


Gay News

THEATER Queer-themed 'Queen of the Night' to run Jan. 29-March 13 2022-01-11
- Victory Gardens Theater is slated to open its 2021-22 Mainstage Season with Queen of the Night, written by travis tate and directed by Victory Gardens Artistic Director Ken-Matt Martin. Queen of the Night features Terry Guest ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Mary Rose' running through Feb. 12 2022-01-10
- Black Button Eyes (BBE) Productions is concluding its 2021-22 season with the world-premiere musical Mary Rose, featuring book and lyrics by Producing Artistic Director Ed Rutherford, music and lyrics by Jeff Bouthiette, direction by Ed Rutherford ...


Gay News

THEATER 'Queens of Infinite Space' canceled because of COVID 2022-01-07
- With the increase in COVID-19 cases in Chicago and beyond, Proboscis Theatre has decided to cancel the performances of The Queens of Infinite Space set to run at Epiphany Center for Arts, 201 S. Ashland Ave., ...


Gay News

THEATER Steppenwolf delays '1919' premiere due to COVID 2022-01-07
- Due to the COVID-19 surge driven by the Omicron variant, and out of an abundance of caution for public health, Steppenwolf Theatre Company has postponed its Steppenwolf for Young Adults world-premiere adaptation of Eve L. Ewing's ...


Gay News

Mercury Theater Chicago announces casting and artists for 'Women of Soul' 2022-01-06
--From a press release - Chicago —Artistic Director Christopher Chase Carter, Managing Director Shane Murray-Corcoran, and Executive Producers Walter Stearns and Eugene Dizonannounce the cast and creative team for the next Mainstage production of the ...


Gay News

THEATER Trans performer Sis is doin' fine in 'Oklahoma!' 2022-01-05
- This isn't your typical grandma's Oklahoma! The very first musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein opened on Broadway in 1943 and continues to captivate audiences today. The dialogue remains the same, but updated casting choices have ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.