Credit: Emily Schwartz

Flying Elephant Productions presents the Chicago premiere of Aurin Squire’s
award-winning 2014 comedy, about a tight-knit group of friends whose bond
is broken when a white boy moves into their black neighborhood in a small
Florida town and joins their Michael Jackson fan club.

Obie (Christopher Taylor), the protagonist, opens the play with a monologue
listing 9/11, the Great Recession, and host of other cultural touchstones
America had yet to reach in 1984, the year the play is set. But it was
Michael Jackson, he says, who was the lodestar and symbol of the delusions
and excesses of that era. Frenchy (Jory Pender), the president of the fan
club, has a schoolgirl crush on Obie, but it’s ne’er-do-well twins, Red and
Yellow (both played by Eldridge Shannon III), who pine away for her. When
Wes (Sam Martin) shows up, he upends the group’s equilibrium. They start
out mocking him, calling him Jack—short for Crackerjack—but Obie can’t help
but be drawn to the newcomer. Wes makes Obie aware of his own sexual
confusion while at the same time laying bare their fundamental differences.
Wes thinks that their shared love for the King of Pop is enough to bridge
the divide—including his own inbred racism—but he’s emphatically proven

Michael Jackson is a great metaphor for the many problems that continue to
plague this country: a man born black, struggling with all his being to
transcend race, gender, class, and perhaps even any recognizable human
form. Squire has no solution for this quandary—either Jackson’s or ours—but
ably presents five young people trying their best to find a measure of
grace in a society temperamentally unsuited to it. Alexis J. Roston
directed.   v