Jitney Set in the 1970s in Pittsburghs Hill District, and depicting gypsy cabdrivers who serve black neighborhoods
Congo Square Theater at Athenaeum Theater, Chicago, IL, Jan. 2 8th 2018
By Maja Rios
Jitney by August Wilson, Congo Square Theater at Athenaeum Theater, Chicago, IL Jan. 2 8th 2018
Jitney, by August Wilson, acted by Congo Square Theater players, was outstanding! Set in the 1970’s in a Pittsburgh, Penn Jitney cab station, focuses on the lives of African-American cab drivers in the 70’s, their hopes, dreams, and realities .A mix of humor and sad truths, “Jitney” represents all that is great in literature , “masks of comedy and tragedy” in playwriting.
The play opens with great background jazz and also in between each scene; Coltrane and other greats add much to the atmosphere of the
“Car Service!” is the call of the drivers who constantly answer the phone in the station for customers. But between each call the drams of their individual lives play out. The play is so realistic you could swear the characters walked right from the streets onto the stage!
Jitney explores all aspects of Black life (mostly male); economics, relationships, war, racism, religion, morals, substance abuse and ultimately, one’s choices in life and how they affect the present.
Like all great writers August Wilson, explores the human condition within the microcosm of American Black life. The play centers on the lead character and owner of the cab station, “Becker”, who is the person who plays by the rules and expects others to follow, which of course, most don’t. the other characters, Booker(ex-con son of Becker), Doub(Korean war vet)Fielding(alcoholic driver)Turnbo(town gossip)Youngblood(young player and husband) and others have their own issues that interfere with success in their lives.
The one female character, Rena, is an upstanding mother who is frustrated by her husband, Youngblood’s, constant womanizing and spending of their household money.
The banter between characters is fast, humorous, and at times deep, questioning God’s existence, moral choices, and everyday frustrations of money, racism and other issues. All this plays out between the daily grind of hustling to survive by depending on customers for their living. Also the cab station itself is constantly under threat to be shut down by the city to make room for gentrification of the neighborhood.
Outstanding acting by all, great staging, terrific jazz tracks and intimate theater setting, make for a wonderful experience! “A Must See!” Jitney runs through Feb 11th at Athenaeum Theater, Thurs through Sunday.