AUGUST WILSON'S JITNEY

Critics

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100 %

Reviews: 14

Audience

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Reviews: 0

In 2017, Jitney became the final play in two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s masterful The American Century Cycle to be seen on Broadway. Set in the early 1970s, this richly textured play follows a group of men trying to eke out a living by driving unlicensed cabs, or jitneys. When the city of Pittsburgh threatens to board up the business and the boss’ son returns from prison, tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed, and the fragile threads binding these people together may come undone at last. Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Lackawanna Blues), one of Wilson’s finest interpreters, this acclaimed production of Jitney received six Tony nominations, winning Best Revival of a Play, and winning the 2017 Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Revival of a Play.

Reviews

Leigh Kennicott

August Wilson’s Jitney shows that some things old are new again. The ride-hailing business in Jitney occupies a soon-condemned building in a gentrifying area of Pittsburg. Becker (Steven Anthony Jones) runs the shop, occupied at various times by a half-dozen drivers who use their own cars to ferry people around the neighborhood. It’s astonishing to think that the personal, ride-share businesses that we consider to be so “21st Century,” were alive and well in African American communities 50 years ago.

Wilson’s writing reveals itself through layer upon layer: oft-told father-son conflict (Becker and Booster, played by Francois Battiste) juxtaposed with struggling young lovers (Youngblood and Rena) constitutes Layer One. The second level can be thought of as the illumination of social norms, circa late 20th Century. The last and most important, I think, is the structure Wilson employs in giving equal weight to each of the characters. Each player gets his or her solo, while the ensemble jams together in eddying circles. There is little left to say about this stunning production, imported from Broadway and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, except it is not to be missed.

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ShowMag - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Brilliantly directed with insight and artistic nuance by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the scenes between Beck and Booster are the most intense in the play as tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed, and the fragile threads binding this makeshift family of jitneys together threaten to come undone. How things work out brilliantly ends the play, with Santiago-Hudson's emotionally revealing spotlight scene tugging at the heartstrings and generating a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Avatar

Aside from the attention to period detail and the uniformly splendid cast, what makes Jitney tick, despite the lack of much action, are the tales these characters spin and the interplay they provoke. The phone on the wall is busier than these guys, yet we’re never bored, because Jitney is as much a social study as it is a drama — a slice-of-life snapshot that, under Santiago-Hudson’s pinpoint direction, works like a well-oiled machine. Each man may be a cog, but each has a specific role in the unspooling of the drama

sweet - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

One doesn’t leave a performance of Wilson’s plays imbued with the tale told, one leaves with a brimming sense of the humanity he celebrates and intoxicated by the beauty of his language.

sweet - Ernest Kearney- The TVolution - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

....there are many more reasons to love this production than not, and they’re found in the kaleidoscopic performances of Thomas, Fielding, Smith, Coats and Blanks, as well as Jones — all seasoned actors who understand and can embody the tragicomic rhythms and truths of Wilson’s work

sweet - Deborah Klugman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Wilson’s great gift is the juicy pungency of language, and it’s in full flower here. It is simply a joy to bask in the streetwise vernacular that suffuses his plays. We know that some of these characters will not respond well to change, but others show promise that they will rise creatively above circumstance and make the best of it. In the end, it’s the humanity that Wilson lifts up in all its complexity, musicality and vivid diversity.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his entire cast merit a well-deserved Bravo for a joyous and revelatory couple of hours of fine-tuned stage work. A more authentic production cannot be imagined.

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

With holiday season fare filling most L.A. stages between now and New Years, August Wilson’s Jitney comes as the most thrilling and invigorating of alternatives. Only a Scrooge would dare object to its arrival.

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Elaine L. Mura - LA Splash

Brilliantly directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, JITNEY has a life of its own – with the audience as spectators to what feels like a real-life drama. Santiago-Hudson is amply aided by a superb ensemble cast who can give the impression that there’s no one else in the room as they go about their everyday business.

sweet - Elaine Mura - Splash Magazines - ...read full review


Avatar

With Ruben Santiago-Hudson repeating as director and several key actors reprising their roles, the play lights up the Taper’s stage and enthralls from beginning to end.

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

These are real people in real situations, acting very much like real people, which gives them their humanness: they are capable of seeming foolish, funny, ruminative, aggressive, contradictory, right, wrong, impulsive, sometimes afraid to stir but always alert. These are people you learn to love, because, in a sense, they are you. Perhaps, to Wilson, that was Chekhovian enough.

sweet - Harvey Perr - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar

I know a gypsy cab play set in the 1970’s doesn’t sound like the perfect holiday outing - but if you love a good story, if you want to think and feel and consider the weight of the truth and what honor really means - it’s great theatre.

Don’t miss this one - we don’t get productions this good of plays this complex often enough.

sweet - Anthony Byrnes - KCRW - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA

Beginning with strident trumpet riffs from Bill Sims Jr’s evocative jazz score, this first of August Wilson's "Pittsburgh Cycle" itself unfolds as if it were a musical composition. Wilson’s lyrical, singsong-y, grammar-deprived dialogue flows as if it could be music, and his characters are rich and oddly majestic through it all, each filled with a unique grasp on how to maneuver the battles and disappointments inherent in our existence on this often miserable planet—especially if you don’t have the privilege of Anglo-Saxon genes to help you get through the briars.

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA - ...read full review


Avatar

Each scene is a gem in its own way, some filled with warm humor, some with pointed social commentary. But the scenes featuring Jones as the rightfully self-righteous father and Battiste as the rightfully self-protective son are exquisite. Ramrod-straight Jones and respectfully constrained Battiste seem to do so little in those moments, yet they produce powerful emotions in us.

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar

I didn’t want to miss a word of a production that makes the case that even this supposedly lesser Wilson work is a masterpiece by any other standard. There will be other “Jitney” revivals that will reanimate the life and times of these characters, but don’t make the mistake of skipping this one. It’s among the finest productions of a Wilson play I’ve seen.

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review


Leigh Kennicott

August Wilson’s Jitney shows that some things old are new again. The ride-hailing business in Jitney occupies a soon-condemned building in a gentrifying area of Pittsburg. Becker (Steven Anthony Jones) runs the shop, occupied at various times by a half-dozen drivers who use their own cars to ferry people around the neighborhood. It’s astonishing to think that the personal, ride-share businesses that we consider to be so “21st Century,” were alive and well in African American communities 50 years ago.

Wilson’s writing reveals itself through layer upon layer: oft-told father-son conflict (Becker and Booster, played by Francois Battiste) juxtaposed with struggling young lovers (Youngblood and Rena) constitutes Layer One. The second level can be thought of as the illumination of social norms, circa late 20th Century. The last and most important, I think, is the structure Wilson employs in giving equal weight to each of the characters. Each player gets his or her solo, while the ensemble jams together in eddying circles. There is little left to say about this stunning production, imported from Broadway and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, except it is not to be missed.

sweet - Leigh Kennicott - ShowMag - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

Brilliantly directed with insight and artistic nuance by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the scenes between Beck and Booster are the most intense in the play as tempers flare, potent secrets are revealed, and the fragile threads binding this makeshift family of jitneys together threaten to come undone. How things work out brilliantly ends the play, with Santiago-Hudson's emotionally revealing spotlight scene tugging at the heartstrings and generating a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

sweet - Shari Barrett - Broadway World - ...read full review


Avatar

Aside from the attention to period detail and the uniformly splendid cast, what makes Jitney tick, despite the lack of much action, are the tales these characters spin and the interplay they provoke. The phone on the wall is busier than these guys, yet we’re never bored, because Jitney is as much a social study as it is a drama — a slice-of-life snapshot that, under Santiago-Hudson’s pinpoint direction, works like a well-oiled machine. Each man may be a cog, but each has a specific role in the unspooling of the drama

sweet - Sylvie Drake - Cultural Weekly - ...read full review


Avatar

One doesn’t leave a performance of Wilson’s plays imbued with the tale told, one leaves with a brimming sense of the humanity he celebrates and intoxicated by the beauty of his language.

sweet - Ernest Kearney- The TVolution - ...read full review


Deborah Klugman

....there are many more reasons to love this production than not, and they’re found in the kaleidoscopic performances of Thomas, Fielding, Smith, Coats and Blanks, as well as Jones — all seasoned actors who understand and can embody the tragicomic rhythms and truths of Wilson’s work

sweet - Deborah Klugman - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Eric A Gordon

Wilson’s great gift is the juicy pungency of language, and it’s in full flower here. It is simply a joy to bask in the streetwise vernacular that suffuses his plays. We know that some of these characters will not respond well to change, but others show promise that they will rise creatively above circumstance and make the best of it. In the end, it’s the humanity that Wilson lifts up in all its complexity, musicality and vivid diversity.
Ruben Santiago-Hudson and his entire cast merit a well-deserved Bravo for a joyous and revelatory couple of hours of fine-tuned stage work. A more authentic production cannot be imagined.

sweet - Eric Gordon - People's World - ...read full review


Steven Stanley

With holiday season fare filling most L.A. stages between now and New Years, August Wilson’s Jitney comes as the most thrilling and invigorating of alternatives. Only a Scrooge would dare object to its arrival.

sweet - Steven Stanley - StageSceneLA - ...read full review


Elaine L. Mura - LA Splash

Brilliantly directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, JITNEY has a life of its own – with the audience as spectators to what feels like a real-life drama. Santiago-Hudson is amply aided by a superb ensemble cast who can give the impression that there’s no one else in the room as they go about their everyday business.

sweet - Elaine Mura - Splash Magazines - ...read full review


Avatar

With Ruben Santiago-Hudson repeating as director and several key actors reprising their roles, the play lights up the Taper’s stage and enthralls from beginning to end.

sweet - Willard Manus - Total Theater - ...read full review


Avatar

These are real people in real situations, acting very much like real people, which gives them their humanness: they are capable of seeming foolish, funny, ruminative, aggressive, contradictory, right, wrong, impulsive, sometimes afraid to stir but always alert. These are people you learn to love, because, in a sense, they are you. Perhaps, to Wilson, that was Chekhovian enough.

sweet - Harvey Perr - Stage and Cinema - ...read full review


Avatar

I know a gypsy cab play set in the 1970’s doesn’t sound like the perfect holiday outing - but if you love a good story, if you want to think and feel and consider the weight of the truth and what honor really means - it’s great theatre.

Don’t miss this one - we don’t get productions this good of plays this complex often enough.

sweet - Anthony Byrnes - KCRW - ...read full review


Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA

Beginning with strident trumpet riffs from Bill Sims Jr’s evocative jazz score, this first of August Wilson's "Pittsburgh Cycle" itself unfolds as if it were a musical composition. Wilson’s lyrical, singsong-y, grammar-deprived dialogue flows as if it could be music, and his characters are rich and oddly majestic through it all, each filled with a unique grasp on how to maneuver the battles and disappointments inherent in our existence on this often miserable planet—especially if you don’t have the privilege of Anglo-Saxon genes to help you get through the briars.

sweet - Travis Michael Holder - Ticket Holders LA - ...read full review


Avatar

Each scene is a gem in its own way, some filled with warm humor, some with pointed social commentary. But the scenes featuring Jones as the rightfully self-righteous father and Battiste as the rightfully self-protective son are exquisite. Ramrod-straight Jones and respectfully constrained Battiste seem to do so little in those moments, yet they produce powerful emotions in us.

sweet - Dany Margolies - Daily News - ...read full review


Avatar

I didn’t want to miss a word of a production that makes the case that even this supposedly lesser Wilson work is a masterpiece by any other standard. There will be other “Jitney” revivals that will reanimate the life and times of these characters, but don’t make the mistake of skipping this one. It’s among the finest productions of a Wilson play I’ve seen.

sweet - Charles McNulty - LA Times - ...read full review