The Violet Hour Midwest premiere

The Violet Hour Midwest premiere

By Edith McCauley, Theater Critic

Given the opportunity, would we change the future? The smallest difference, like a stone thrown into a pond, could have results unforeseen. John, a young publisher just establishing his business following WWI, must choose between the work of his friend and that of his lover. Gidger, played with frenetic energy by Tim Hopper, rushes into the office announcing a machine gone mad is spouting thousands of papers. These books of the future give John a glimpse of his life and that of friends. Fearful of the consequences, his decisions become more difficult.

Four plays running concurrently feature characters central to the plot played by outstanding African-American actresses. Ora Jones plays Jessie, John’s lover and author of a flawed memoir. Renowned in the Chicago theater community, The Violet Hour is her latest performance in a series of successes. Proposals at NAT introduced us to Clemma (Jacqueline Renee Jones), narrator of the story and the glue that held the Hines family together. August WIlson’s Gem of the Ocean starred Greta Oglesby as Aunt Ester, matriarch and mystic. In the Hot Mikado at Marriott Theatre, Felicia Fields plays Katisha. Dominating the stage, her portrayal of Gilbert and Sullivan’s heroine is both comedic and vocally spectacular.

Steppenwolf continues to produce works of quality. Their choice of plays reflect the sophistication and taste of Artistic Director Martha Lavey. We sometimes question the selection. Having an open mind is essential.

The Violet Hour runs through June 15, 2003. All performances run Tuesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. The box office number is (312) 335-1650. Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before show time.

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