Feature

The week’s other openings

In the Red and Brown Water, Harriet Jacobs, and The Brig

Atlanta
In the Red and Brown Water
Hertz Stage, (404) 733-5000
This tale of life in a Louisiana housing project is “a haunting and powerful piece of mythic art,” said Frank Rizzo in Variety. A tight ensemble summons scenes using simple props and provides its own musical accompaniment with beats banged out on pails and tubs. The 27-year-old playwright, Tarell Alvin McCraney, writes unforgettable dialogue with “gentle poetry and an open heart.”

Chicago
Harriet Jacobs
Steppenwolf Theatre, (312) 335-1650
Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of a harrowing 1861 memoir by a young female slave pulls no punches, said Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune. What’s striking, however, isn’t a frank depiction of physical and sexual abuse but the “sophisticated consideration of how this most heinous of institutionalized horrors seeped into the cultural bloodstream.”

Los Angeles
The Brig
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, (310) 477-2055
Kenneth H. Brown’s 1963 play about U.S. Marines in military jail is both experimental and realistic, said Steven Mikulan in the LA Weekly. It mostly consists of “Kabuki-like choreography as they mop floors, smoke cigarettes, and line up for chow and showers.” But The Brig never bores, and can’t be bettered as a study of crushing institutional authority.

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