Every once in a while you encounter a show that makes you laugh so much it hurts. But rarely do you get a show that, sometimes seconds later, causes painful silence in the crowd. The fact that the late Joel Drake Johnson’s Rasheeda Speaking first premiered in 2014 (at Rivendell Theatre Ensemble) is an all-too-pointed reminder that we are not closer to racial equity in this country—let alone in our workplaces. Even so, Shattered Globe Theatre’s production of Rasheeda Speaking is an incredible piece of social commentary.
Through 6/4: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Mon 5/16, 8 PM (industry night) and Sat 6/4, 2:30 PM; no show Thu 5/19; Sat 5/6 performance offers 6:45 touch tour and audio description; Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-975-8150, sgtheatre.org, $45 ($35 seniors, $15 students, $25 under 30).
Jaclyn Spaulding is a receptionist at Dr. David Williams’s surgical clinic. Along with fellow receptionist Ileen Van Meter, the two ensure that the doctor’s practice runs smoothly. Though that isn’t without its own sets of problems—namely the discreet and overt racism that Jaclyn (as a Black woman) has to put up with from her colleague, boss, and even patients. What unfolds is a dramedy of sorts that reminds some members of the audience (hint: white people) how insidious racism is. And how painfully ridiculous, albeit dangerous, white women’s tears are.
Deanna Reed-Foster as Jaclyn lights up the stage brighter than the beaming fluorescent lights of the clinic. Her trapeze of dialogue keeps the audience oscillating between uproarious laughter, sighs, and silence. AmBer D. Montgomery’s direction here is spot-on, giving the ensemble the tools to work with Reed-Foster’s incredible voracity. While the performances of Daria Harper, Barbara Roeder Harris, and Drew Schad are similarly strong, Reed-Foster is undoubtedly the star of this show.