Chicago Theatre Review
‘Beauty’s Daughter’ a superlative solo show
Beauty’s Daughter – American Blues Theatre
A multifaceted portrait of Harlem and the Black experience, “Beauty’s Daughter” by Dael Orlandersmith is a solo show, but not in the conventional sense. Yes, there are confessions to the audience, and yes, there are shifts in tone and character to maintain interest, but what separates “Beauty’s Daughter” from the normal crop of solo shows is Orlandersmith’s extraordinary writing. Raw, ecstatic, and altogether poetic, Orlandersmith’s writing pivots between her poetry and profiles of Harlem residents, including a young drug slinger, a blind jazz musician, and an Italian laborer.
But Orlandersmith’s writing would not sing without a talented actor and director, and in American Blues Theater’s production, Wandachristine acting and Ron OJ Parson’s directing are both sublime. Whether she is embodying the varied characters of Orlandersmith’s Harlem or bringing passion and eloquence to the show’s poetry, Wandachristine is an utter joy to behold, and her acting encompasses a remarkable range of emotions and moods. And as he has done with so many other plays about the Black life, Parson’s direction is patient, nuanced, and above all else, genuine, never pushing the material and allowing the characters to breath.
Also deserving of praise is the show’s creative team, particularly Caitlin McLeod’s scenic design (which marvelously complements Paul Deziel’s projection design) and Michael Alan Stein’s costumes, which aid Wandachristine’s character-shifting without being obnoxious.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented through Aug. 5 by American Blues Theater at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago.
Tickets are available by calling the box office at 773-404-7336 or by going to http://www.greenhousetheater.org/.
Additional information about this and other fine Chicagoland productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com