*** Recommended *** The Goodman Theatre production of the ripple, the wave that carried me home is a beautifully layered story about a family’s struggle against injustice. Told from an estranged daughter’s perspective, the narrative seems to make huge leaps through time – present to past to earlier past and back again – without warning, which made it difficult to follow. Another thing to consider, the ripple, the wave runs an hour and 50 minutes without an intermission, which is just too long for me (the seats in the Owen are not the most comfortable). 3 ½ Spotlights
Janice (Christiana Clark) is a professional woman with a high visibility job at a college in Ohio. She gets along well with her in-laws (who live nearby), she has a once-a-week phone call, avoid the holidays relationship with her family.
In describing herself, Janice emphasizes her non-relationship with water – she doesn’t like anything about water. She never goes in water, hates the feel of it on her skin, even hates the way it tastes – even though she still drinks a glass of water first thing in the morning, since that’s the way she was raised.
Recently she’s been plagued with multiple voice mail messages from Young Chipper Ambitions Black Woman (Brianna Buckley) asking her to return the call, but she just hasn’t had the time – or the inclination. YCABW is not about to give up, however, enlisting Aunt Gayle (Buckley, again), who insists she call YCABW.
Young Chipper Ambitions Black Woman informs her that the swimming pool in a new community center is going to be named after her father, an activist who campaigned for equal access to swimming pools for years, and they want her to deliver remarks. Janice asks why not include her mother but YCABW shrugs her off.
As she debates whether or not to go, she introduces the audience to her parents, Edwin (Ronald L. Conner) and Helen (Aneisa Hicks) through a series of stories and episodes from her childhood. There were three pools in her hometown, the best one reserved for the wealthy white people, the good pool for the middle and lower class white people, and the just OK for the black community. Her grandfather and later her mother taught hundreds of black children to swim in that pool. Her activist parents pulled her into their crusades, even as a small child. Over time, she pulled away, putting distance between them.
She does go back to Kansas, where she reconciles with her Mother and Aunt Gayle. After her remarks, the three ladies don swim suits to enjoy the new pool. Warning: the set does have a pool but you won’t be able to see it if you’re sitting near the back.
I’d never really thought about access to the ability to swim. It just wasn’t on my radar. Since I think knowing how to swim is important, I enrolled my children in swimming lessons at our local YWCA when they were babies. Although those classes were integrated, the ripple, the wave got me thinking about the pool in my old neighborhood.
My home town (city really) resembles the fictitious town in Kansas in that it also had three identical swimming pools in three different parks. Mine was in a close-knit town which had been annexed into the city, so everyone was white. I don’t know if that was deliberate, it just was. Since another pool was in a black neighborhood, it probably was all black. I have no idea about the third pool, I never went there. All three pools offered swimming lessons in the summers. The city also had an integrated indoor pool for winter swimming lessons.
Note: Guests are encouraged but not required to wear masks while inside the building.
the ripple, the wave that carried me home runs through February 12th in the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Theatre,,170 N. Dearborn, Chicago. Most reasonable parking option for the Goodman is the Government Center garage on Lake between LaSalle and Dearborn, online advance payment at www.interparkonline.com/goodmantheatre.
Running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes, no intermission.
- Wednesdays at 7:30 pm
- Thursdays at 7:30 pm
- Fridays at 8:00 pm
- Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 pm
- Sundays at 8:00 pm
Additional performance on Tuesday, January 31st & Sunday, February 5th at 7:30 pm.
Accessible & Special Performances:
- Touch Tour & Audio-Described Performance: February 5th, 12:30 pm Touch Tour, 2:00 pm Performance
- ASL Interpreted Performance, February 11th at 2:00 pm
- Spanish Subtitles, February 11th at 8:00 pm.
- Open Captioned Performance, February 12th at 2:00 pm.
Tickets $15-$45. FYI (312) 443-3800 or www.goodmantheatre.org/Ripple.