Heritage of Slavery between the Lines in Neveu's Latest

By Helbig, Jack | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 5, 2006 | Go to article overview

Heritage of Slavery between the Lines in Neveu's Latest


Helbig, Jack, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Jack Helbig Daily Herald Correspondent

"Heritage"

* * * * out of four

Location: American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron, Chicago

Times: 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays; through May 28

Running time: 2 hours, with intermission

Parking: Street and paid parking nearby

Tickets: $25-$30

Box office: (773) 929-1031

Rating: Adult language and situations

The past looms large in much of Chicago playwright Brett Neveu's work. In "American Dead" he focused on the lingering power of an unsolved murder. In "Eric Larue" he was concerned with the aftermath of a Columbine-like school shooting.

In his latest play, currently receiving its world premiere production at the Chicago-based American Theater Company, Neveu has fixed his writer's gaze on race relations in Louisiana and the legacy, or heritage, of slavery.

The play concerns a prison work detail assigned to renovate an old plantation house along the Mississippi River. The deeper the two guards (one a white Cajun, the other black) and the three prisoners (two white, one black) get into the job, the more the issue of what exactly happened on the slave plantation and in the surrounding sugar cane fields threatens the whole renovation project.

This may sound melodramatic. But, of course, this is a Neveu play. Which means much of the drama is underplayed or buried beneath indirect conversations or long, fascinating monologues delivered by the characters reflecting on what happened. …

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