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The Carletonian

My Kind of Town a “must-see”, performed with subtlety

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-23859e6c-cf04-ff37-4984-95a56d27e7cf">The Experimental Theater Board presents My Kind of Town this week, written by John Conroy and directed by Veronica Garcia ’16 and Ethan Ramsey ’17. The play is a must-see, drawing the audience into the history of the Chicago police torture scandal of the ’70s and ’80s. The entire cast takes on this formidable challenge and succeeds in portraying an immensely complicated issue with subtlety, but Francisco Castro ’18 stands out as a victim of police brutality with emotion and realism. Tensions between races, classes, occupations, genders and family members become tangible onstage as the actors work together. As an audience member, I found myself unable to look away; my eyes were glued to the stage.

The excellent production choices of the play add significantly to the production. Creative lighting allows separate stories, played out at the same time, to diverge and then ultimately converge, bringing two monologues together in a truly harrowing scene. The staging of different households on stage at the same time, too, brings the emotional and personal impact of the story home to the audience.

While its cast and directors do an amazing job of bringing this story to life, the frequent temporal jumps were somewhat confusing to the audience. Additionally, I was unsure for a substantial amount of one scene whether it was one character’s dream, memory, or reality. It is difficult for an audience member to appreciate the subtleties of characterization that the actors are employing while they are unsure of the basic facts of a scene, like setting.

Despite these two confusing moments, however, the play on the whole flows from beginning to end. It is also a very timely production in the context of Black Lives Matter and, in particular, the shooting of Laquan McDonald by the Chicago Police in 2014. Through its intensity, the play constantly reminds its audience that the events it depicts actually happened and that police brutality continues to be a horrific problem, not only in Chicago, but also across the nation.

The last performance of My Kind of Town is tonight at 6:30 in Little Nourse, followed by a conversation with the playwright at 8:45. I highly recommend seeing it; you won’t be able to stop thinking about it as you leave.

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