The pressures of masculinity require that its terrors go unspoken; young men and boys often negotiate violent worlds without help or outlet. Solo writer/performer Dael Orlandersmith tells their untold stories with a truthful, unblinking eye. Her stories pack a powerful punch.
It’s a harsh landscape, a planet populated by characters desperate to keep their heads above water. There’s Mike, the child of a prostitute trying to rise above his roots through education; Flaco, whose mentally ill mother sexually abuses him and Ian, a child of a working-class British yob, who struggles with his own violent tendencies. Orlandersmith switches seamlessly between five bleak realities to build to a hopeful climax.
The piece is not without its difficulties; its structure doesn’t support its length and certain stories are an awkward fit. But Orlandersmith’s presence puts the point across: young men and boys are in danger of slipping through the cracks. (Lisa Buscani)
Goodman Theatre, 170 North Dearborn, (312)443-3800. Through October 28. (Half-Priced Tickets)