Daughter's story is her strength in 'Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery'

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 05:33:32 AM. REVIEW: 'Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery' by Pegasus Theatre Chicago tells story of Daughter, raised in the South by a community of black women. (3 stars)
For those who grow sick and tired of being sick and tired about patriarchy and its abuses (so much in the spotlight in recent weeks, but never out of the picture), Pegasus Theatre Chicago has got a show for you. True, Shay Youngblood’s “Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery” first premiered locally with the now-defunct Chicago Theatre Company almost 20 years ago, before and #MeToo were around. But this production, directed by Ilesa Duncan (who staged that premiere), feels like a fresh shot of adrenaline and hope crafted just for these times. The simple act of centering on the stories of black women, with barely any references to the men (white or black) in their lives is itself an act of resistance. And the women we meet in Youngblood’s unapologetically fierce, funny and ultimately hopeful memory-play-with-music might make you want to jump up at the curtain call and ask all of them to run for office. Daughter (Melanie Loren) is our tour guide through her childhood, particularly in the summer when she had her “first blood” and was preparing to “go to the river” for a ritual baptism into womanhood. Raised by Big Mama (Felisha McNeal) and Big Mama’s friends in a small Southern town after her mother, (Darian Tene), left for New York City (where her death remains a mystery until late in the show), Daughter unfolds her stories through a series of vignettes. These reveal the connections and conflicts among the women and the ways they learned to survive the harsh — and sometimes deadly —...Read more
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