Undeniable Hope

crumbs-1‘Crumbs From The Table of Joy’ is set in 1950 with the ever-present backdrop of working-class Brooklyn New York where a father is struggling with grief and complexity. He is looking for solace after the death of his wife and decides to relocate his family to another state to start over.  Traveling from the southern heat of Florida in search of a new beginning with the spiritual guidance of a man called Father Divine, but the new city that he settles on becomes a turbulent journey that no one sees coming filled with racism, religion, communism, and interracial marriage. 

Pulitzer Prize-Winner Playwright Lynn Nottage ‘Crumbs From The Table of Joy’ tells the story of struggling family love in a country filled with racial tension and social turmoil.

Godfrey Crump (Terence Sims) is the patriarch of the family he has two daughters Ernestine Crump (Chanell Bell) who is who is the protagonist of the story and her sister Ermina (Brandi Jiminez Lee) who is who is outspoken and sassy. Both of them are trying to adjust to their new lives and is causing a few frustrations for a single father unsure on how to raise his two teenage girls.

Ernestine, in particular, is driven by her goal to graduate from high school in the summer; however, both of them struggle against the ways of their father and the church he so desperately worships and a preacher he has never seen.

It is through Ernestine narration that she guides us through the story of her memory of a fantasy, which is similar to the perfection of the movies she came to love. Earnestine's running explanations to the audience mirror her aunt's diverse and learned patterns of language and embellished descriptive words of old film scripts, which becomes a voice all her own, one with a degree of strength and wisdom.

43141142_10160999940725584_3902336340875804672_nLily Anne Green (U/S Tarina Bradshaw) their mother’s very sophisticated sister arrives to live with the Crumps fresh from Harlem where she has developed her essential sense of liberation and understanding of the world. Ernestine and Ermina are intrigued by their aunt's unusual and bold ways, and her impressive views lead to a turbulent journey towards independence and a challenging future for the girls. Ernestine knows what it means to feel like an outsider fighting to become a better person; in a world that has shaped and molded her future into womanhood.

In the meantime, Lily is struggling with her demons of a life without purpose as she continues to spiral out of control. After a heated argument with Lily, Godfrey decides to leave for a few days eventually returning with a new white, German-immigrant wife with no explanation other than we met, fell in love and got married; all in a couple of days.

The family's tiny apartment once again is interrupted with turmoil and chaos; nonetheless Gerte (EmilyTate) Godfrey’s new wife is hopeful about her new family, but after leaving a war-torn Germany, she is angered by the thought that her race would cause barriers between her and her stepdaughters. In their new world of social disorder, idealism can only go so far.  

Chanell Bell does a great job of the female lead of telling the story through her recollections with interwoven threads of an immaculate tapestry of suppleness, fantasies, and daily sorrows. The night that we saw the play we had the pleasure to see Tarina Bradshaw play the role of Lily Anne Green who is the understudy; she nailed the character of the liberated aunt to perfection with passion and rage!

Director Tyrone Phillips addresses the concept of change in ‘Crumbs From The Table of Joy’ as we watch how one man tries to come to grips with life ever-changing situations, seeking answers from above or in his case from Father Divine.

Let’s Play ‘Recommend’ that you check this play out at Raven Theatre where the love of family is undeniable!

The cast includes:

Chanell Bell (Ernestine Crump)

Brianna Buckley (Lily Anne Green)

Tarina Bradshaw (Under Study Lily Anne Green)

Brandi Jiminez Lee (Ermina Crump)

Terence Sims (Godfrey Crump)

Emily Tate (Gerte Schulte)


Raven Theatre Presents 


By Lynn Nottage

Directed by Tyrone Phillips

October 4 – November 18, 2018




Filed under: ChicagoNow

Leave a comment