Empathy and enthusiasm battle with exasperation and enmity in the complicated relationship of a mother and daughter in Philip Hayes Dean’s involving comedy/drama “The Sty of the Blind Pig.” Hartford TheaterWorks will be casting its critically accurate eyes on this 1971 play that sets itself in Chicago in the 1950’s with the Civil Rights movement knocking on the door.
Until Sunday, February 26, “The Sty of the Blind Pig” will reveal how a mother’s love can turn tyrannical and pierce and wound an unsuspectedly sensitive daughter. The matriarch Weedy, played with supreme queenly qualities of entitlement by Brenda Thomas, never misses an opportunity to alternately encourage and berate her unmarried daughter Alberta, portrayed with grace and fire by Krystal Lucas.
The two women inhabit a run-down apartment that will eventually be condemned by the city and that is the boxing ring where they figuratively take and give their verbal punches. Weedy is the righteous Christian who distains anyone who is not a faithful churchgoer, who imbibes alcohol, who indulges in the devil’s game of gambling or who leads an immoral life of sin.
She directs her preaching directly at her brother Doc, a sassy street wise Jonathan Earl Peck, who laughs off his sister’s religious ramblings and continues to pursue all the transgressions Weedy abhors. Her arrows of indignation, however, wound Alberta who has her own code of honor firmly in place.
The pair parry and thrust, advance and retreat, especially when a stranger crosses their threshold. The appearance of Blind Jordan, in the capable hands of Eden Marryshow, puts this street singer without sight directly in the love starved Alberta‘s vision. This man who was born in a brothel, named The Sty of the Blind Pig, ignites both women with startlingly different results.
Tazewell Thomas directs this memorable memory play with discerning care.
For tickets ($50-63, and student rush $17 when available), call Hartford TheaterWorks. 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Come early to the upstairs gallery to enjoy the artwork of Jenni Freidman.
Watch how Alberta’s innate kindness to a stranger propels the family to reexamine its basic values and turn them inside out.