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Theater Mon Mar 18 2013

Theater Seven's BlackTop Sky

BlackTopSky.jpg

(left to right) Julian Parker and Kristin E. Ellis is Theater Seven of Chicago's production of BlackTop Sky by Christina Anderson, directed by Cassy Sanders, as part of Steppenwolf's Garage Rep 2013. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

Theater Seven's BlackTop Sky has all the charm of "Good Times" and none of the one-liners. The minimal set includes little more than a couple benches and scattered litter to give it an authentic "Chicago Housing Projects" feel. On one of the benches lives Klass, aka "Pigeon," (endearingly performed by Julian Parker) because of the feathers molting from the down jacket that he wears 12 months a year. Our protagonist, 18-year-old Ida (Kristin E. Ellis), opens the play, standing on a bench, by telling us about her witnessing the cops rough up a street vendor and feeling helpless about it. In the process of telling the story she drops her keys and Klass picks them up, and after a few tense interactions between the two over the next few days they eventually become friends, to the dismay of Ida's boyfriend.

Over the course of the performance, dozens of quick cuts and scene changes pair with unexpected interactions and tensions as Ida carries on with her delicate transition from teen in the projects to an adult woman. The resulting story is a tad underwhelming and the message unclear but the touching and often really funny interactions between Klass and Ida during the course of the play are really enjoyable.

BlackTop Sky is being performed through April 21 at Steppenwolf's Garage Stage. Single tickets ($20) and three-play passes ($45) to Garage Rep 2013 are currently on sale through Audience Services (1650 N Halsted St), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org.

 
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