January 23, 2017
By Dr. Leonard H. Golubchick LaborPress Entertainment Editor
“Jitney” is the last of August Wilson’s 10 plays cycle which explores African-American life over several decades in the Hill District of Pittsburg. This is Mr. Wilson’s only play which has never been produced on Broadway and is the last of the “Century Cycle”.
Simultaneously Mr. Wilson’s play “Fences” has been released in movie theaters and stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. August Wilson’s has been recognized as one of the preeminent American playwrights with two Pulitzer Prizes and a Broadway theater named in his honor.
“Jitney’s” setting as a rundown car service wonderfully establishes the mood through scenic designer David Gallo’s sets. The Director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson magnificently manages an ensemble cast to provide the audience with a detailed study through precise action which is interspersed with humor and expertly directed comic trimming which engages the audience. August Wilson’s eloquence in his words is brought to life through adept directing as well as expert acting. The performances by Michael Potts as Turnbo, Anthony Chisholm as Fielding, Andre Holland as Youngblood and John Douglas Thompson who plays Becker who runs the taxi operation along with his just released from jail son Booster played by Bandon DIrden all create the pathos and interest in the lives of the characters which maintain the interest of the audience which runs almost three hours.
“Jitney” gives voice to the African American experience during a time of transition in a neighborhood in 1977 Pittsburg. This is a voice that transcends time and place and evokes the American experience.