"Fucking A" (UrbanTheater Company): Dark and Intense and Musical?!

"Fucking A" (UrbanTheater Company):  Dark and Intense and Musical?!

 

 

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

#68. UrbanTheater Company, in association with Pegasus Players, presents the Professional Midwest Premiere of FUCKING A.    In a small town in a small country in the middle of nowhere, life is out of control.  The Mayor is publicly screwing the village whore.  Bounty hunters are self-appointed terrorists.  A cleaning woman’s young son has been imprisoned for stealing food.  And now, the rich people’s housekeeper kills babies for a living.  Hester has been branded an abortionist with a capital A.  She made the unpleasant career choice for the money.  She wants to buy her son’s freedom.  He has been imprisoned for 20+ years.   She doesn’t even know what he looks like anymore. Her years of suffering have created delusions.  She remembers her son as angelic and the little girl that snitched on him as satanic.  Her labels blind her to the truth.  FUCKING A is “The Scarlet Letter” worn by “Vera Drake” and sung by “Sweeny Todd.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Suzan-Lori Parks has penned her first “revenge tragedy.”  The drama unfolds in a riveting fashion.  The audience pieces together the snippets to understand this futuristic world along with Hester’s world.  It’s dark and intense and musical?!  The biggest surprise to me was the cast continually breaking into song.  After being raped, screwed, or stabbed, the actor sang a little tune.  Although the cast harmonized with some amazing pipes accompanied mostly by only a piano, the songs are a bizarre addition.  Like the trio of ruthless hunters getting a bar song that has maybe three lines in it. The sound is great but the song isn’t saying anything so why have it? If anything, it minimizes the escalating big buckets of bloody intrigue.

Under the direction of Richard Perez, the action is staged in a variety of corners of the theatre.  The large and talented cast bring their A game!  In the lead, Kelly Owens (Hester) is flawlessly flawed.  She’s a mother obsessed.  Owens’ blind faith in her love for her son and her hate for his accuser is tragically heartbreaking.  The brightspots in her dank life are the kind-hearted whore and the loving butcher.  Lyndsay Rose Kane (Canary Mary aka whore) is a sexy, hot mess.  A self-absorbed Kane delivers moments of pure compassion for Owens.  The pairing of the *A* gal pals is oddly perfect.  A hilarious Madrid St. Angelo (butcher) rattles off a litany of his daughter’s wrong-doings.  An understanding St. Angelo brings a quirky romantic angle to Owen’s dark torment.  And the cause of much of the show’s distress is the mysteriously terrifying Lance Newton, ripped-for-your-pleasure.

FUCKING A transports “The Scarlet Letter” from 18th century to 21st century.  It shows how labeling continues to dehumanize people.  Branding someone - whore, baby killer, monster - makes it easier to do bad things to them.  FUCKING A is a timeless drama about the fine line between loving and hating someone too much.

Interestingly, I spent my Saturday in back to back dystopias:  THE GIVER and FUCKING A.  The similarity in themes was fascinatingly coincidental.  The difference in post-apocalyptic worlds was equally disturbing.  The doubleheader was a head trip.  Both worlds worth visiting but I wouldn’t want to live in either.

Running Time:  Two hours includes an intermission

At the new Pegasus Players’ home, 4520 N. Beacon

Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”

Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Richard Perez

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7pm

Thru April 15th

Buy Tickets at www.urbantheaterchicago.org

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