Tricia Stiller/Review: Production addresses relevant issues

Tricia Stiller/Review: Production addresses relevant issues

As social justice and political activism return to the forefront of our nation's latest growth spurt, the Celebration Company at the Station Theatre in Urbana flexes its creative muscle to expand our thinking with its current offering, "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" by Adam P. Kennedy and his mother, award-winning playwright Adrienne Kennedy.

A semi-autobiographical account of Adam Kennedy's 1991 beating and subsequent arrest by a white police officer in Arlington, Va., "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" is an intricately woven lyrical drama, with many layered theatrical components, which is Adrienne Kennedy's unmistakable writing style.

Under the direction of Latrelle Bright, this production is gripping, yet fluid, as past meets present through the narrations, recollections and on-stage projections.

Rhonda Henderson plays Suzanne Alexander, (a fictionalized version of Adrienne Kennedy) mother to the victim Teddy (fictionalized version of Adam Kennedy), played by Preston Roseborough.

Seeking justice for her son, whose only crime was a broken taillight, mother Alexander writes to every elected official she can think of, as she recalls the trials of her own family's past, prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

As is typical with Kennedy, this piece is fragmented and feels almost experimental, with a variety of theater styles coming together to illustrate life's chaos.

In addition to Henderson and Roseborough, the sizable ensemble also includes Thom Schnarre, Kimberly Schofield, Meaguell Gaines, Cedric Jones, Prince F. Robertson, Jess Schlipf, Jace Jamison, Chris Senepole, Estella Samii and Dave Krostal.

Eerily relevant, "Sleep Deprivation Chamber" is at times quite disturbing, with harsh language and realistic violence that could just as easily have been ripped from the morning's headlines.

Tricia Stiller serves as director for the McLean County Diversity Project's Theatre Program, the Miller Park Summer Theatre Program and the Penguin Project McLean County. She can be contacted at

Topics (1):Theater