Chicago Tribune - Recommended
"...Brown's new production is powerfully acted in many scenes, especially in the blistering confrontations between two interdependent sisters, as grippingly played by Charles and Buckley, who are really fired up here and who are part of a very strong cast."
Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended
"...There's no curtain call for the brilliant ensemble of Victory Gardens' "cullad wattah," Erika Dickerson-Despenza's harrowing drama about the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. Instead, the production, running through July 17, ends in a blackout that leaves audience clapping as the house lights come up, gradually realizing the cast isn't coming out for the traditional bow. It's a powerful, tacit acknowledgement that any sort of celebratory shift would dilute the production's final, deeply troubling moments."
Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended
"...I hardly ever start reviews this way, but trust me: stop reading this and hop online to get tickets for Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s cullud wattah, now in its local premiere at Victory Gardens under Lili-Anne Brown’s direction. It’s a profound, poetic, scabrous (and beautifully acted) piece of theater that hits at so many levels that I found myself walking in a daze of wonderment, anger, and grief after emerging from the Biograph."
Let's Play Theatrical Reviews - Highly Recommended
"...The noteworthy, unmistakable brilliance of cullud wattah is that the writer, director, and actors are like silhouettes in this production, choosing to have the audience focus more on the meaning than their contribution and performers, which can be seen during the impacting ending!"
Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended
"...Moving, powerful, and intense, “cullud wattuh” is an undeniably phenomenal production! Sad but never depressing, informative yet never beating you over the head, the regional premier of this show is based on real events that took place in Flint, Michigan, over the past eight years."
WTTW - Highly Recommended
"...It is this environmental catastrophe, with its strong racial overtones, that is at the core of “cullud watta,” the expertly limned play by Erika Dickerson-Despenza (a winner of the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Award). Her powerful story of three generations of Black women, now receiving a fiercely emotional regional premiere at Victory Gardens Theater, is a model for how to fully humanize a social and political crisis."
Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended
"...Told mostly in an episodic structure though it opens and closes with choral monologues, cullud wattuh provides an up-close-and-way-too-personal view of the ways in which this catastrophe breaks even the strongest people, who find themselves making decisions that, in any other moment in their lives, would mortify them. Dickerson-Despenza, whose copious research is visible in every moment of her play, doesn't hold anything back. She opens the play with a leukemia-riddled little girl sleepwalking as she marks the days on the floor and then lowers herself into a bathtub full of filthy water while the rest of the ensemble sings a bespoke version of "Wade in the Water" that ends with a reference to the man in charge, the state's governor: "Snyder's playing God with the water.""
PicksInSix - Recommended
"...One should hesitate to share the play’s conclusion; it’s shocking and yet strongly resolute. cullud wattah was written by the playwright with great purpose, directed with power by Ms. Brown, and offered onstage by a cast with obvious affinity for each other. As a family should. The hurt may be more than knee-high, but it needs to be for this family to share and help us understand the alacrity of the story’s dilemma."
Picture This Post - Highly Recommended
"...It's always there. We never get the dirty water and its cullad wattah double meaning out of view. We later cringe when we consider that Plum's math lessons come in the form of tallying the number of water bottles it will take to cook Thanksgiving dinner."
Splash Magazine - Highly Recommended
"...There are many things I can say about this production. I loved everything about it. Erika Dickerson – Despenza is a dynamic writer. The story was poetic. The delivery of the message was outstanding. The acting was believable, and the actors connected with the audience, bringing many to tears. Cullud Wattah is by far my favorite production this year. I highly recommend this production"
BroadwayWorld - Highly Recommended
"...The Chicago premiere of Erika Dickerson-Despenza's cullud wattah at Victory Gardens Theater is a heartbreaking and compelling play about a family of resilient Black women living in Flint, Michigan. Dickerson-Despenza's script intertwines slice-of-life scenes between marion (Brianna Buckley), her sister ainee (Sydney Charles), her daughters plum (Demetra Dee) and reesee (Ireon Roach), and her mother big ma (Renee Lockett) with larger discussions and news clips that reflect the water crisis in Flint, Michigan."