Dueling Critics: 'Tobacco Road' Travels Back to the Great Depression

May 28, 2010

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Carmen Roman, Gwendolyn Whiteside and Matthew Brumlo. Photo courtesy of The Stage Channel.
It's the middle of the Great Depression, and the Lester family is destitute. A crop hasn't grown in their field in years. Jeeter Lester is trying to starve his mother and marry off his children so he can be rid of the burden. The only thing he and his wife Ada are worried about is how they'll be buried. The play is Tobacco Road. When it first hit theaters in the mid 1930s, its raw portrayal of human degradation repulsed critics and caused such a scandal that the mayor of Chicago ordered the Selwyn Theater shut down! Well, it's back on stage in Chicago. Here to tell us if we'll be as shocked or entertained as audiences were 75 years ago are Eight Forty Eight's Dueling Critics Jonathan Abarbanel and Kelly Kleiman.

On stage:
Tobacco Road
Through June 20
American Blues Theater


Music Button:  Carolina Chocolate Drops, "Peace Behind The Bridge", from the CD Genuine Negro Jig, (Nonesuch)