They May Rebel, But They Truly Excel

Experience one of the oldest forms of entertainment in a modernized way.  Enjoy the art of the radio play, only you’ll see the actors, musicians, and sound effects people performing the work live on stage as they create Black Women Rebel which is currently playing at Benson Theatre under the auspices of Radio Theatre Omaha.

In some ways, Radio Theatre Omaha is the spiritual successor to the Shelterbelt Theatre in that everything produced is original and local, but it does a marvelous job resuscitating the lost art of audio shows.  These shows can be enjoyed both visually as you can see all the bits of work that go into creating an audio show or they can be enjoyed with just the ears as you can close your eyes and let your imagination run wild and free.

Black Women Rebel features two audio shows:  Riot, Repeat by Viv Parr and Alexa, Siri and Cortana Enter a Juke Joint by Kim Louise.

Riot, Repeat tells the powerful story of women fighting for the right to vote.  Doing it through the voices of black women is especially intriguing as they were excluded from the fight for voting rights, but it serves as a stark reminder that equal rights need to be equal.  Karen Fox, Peggy Jones, and Allana Pommier excel as the voices of the suffragists as they share the story of their fierce battle to vote through the use of protests via picketing and hunger strikes and the humiliation and pain they suffered to get that right.  Jay Srygley serves as the voice of President Wilson and “the man” for lack of a better word and does yeoman work with his sneering and snide remarks about the inferiority of women to men. 

Alexa, Siri and Cortana Enter a Juke Joint is a comedy about three A.I. systems taking a vacation to get away from the hustle and bustle of information requests.  I found it quite amusing and a bit thought provoking as the world collapses with the A.Is. being out of commission which is an interesting commentary on the world’s overreliance on computers.

Karen Fox generates some chuckles as the weepy Cortana who is about to fade into obsolescence.  Peggy Jones is on target on the level-headed Siri who encourages the other systems to be responsible and get back to work.  Allana Pommier gets the guffaws as the sassy Alexa who gets into doing nothing and wants to start enjoying some of the simple pleasures of being human.  Jay Srygley keeps his cool as an anchorman relating the story of the A.I. systems going offline.

Breana Carodine does a nice bit of directing especially with the pacing of Alexa. . . and the emotional beats of Riot, Repeat though that show’s cue pickups need a little tightening.  Kim Alger and Brian Kokensparger serve as fantastic Foley artists (sound people) as they generate squeaks, footsteps, pouring beverages, and belches among other sound effects.  Jordan Smith’s gentle guitar work serves as fine intros and endings to the shows.

If you want to see some fine original work and the return of a classic style of entertainment, then give Black Women Rebel a whirl.

Black Women Rebel runs at Benson Theatre through April 2.  Showtimes are 7:30pm Fri-Sun with an extra Sunday performance at 2pm.  Tickets cost $20 and be purchased here.  Benson Theatre is located at 6054 Maple St in Omaha, NE.

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