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  East Texas Hot Links at Writers Theatre

East Texas Hot Links

Writers Theatre
325 Tudor Court Glencoe

In the woods of East Texas, the Top 'o the Hill Cafe offers comfort, solace and companionship for the regulars who come in each night. However, it is the summer of 1955, and times are changing. In the face of oppressive Jim Crow laws, seven strong-willed locals join forces to protect one of their own-until the unthinkable catches them by surprise, changing life at Top 'o the Hill forever.

Thru - Jan 29, 2017

Price: $35-$80

Stage: The Gillian Theatre

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 847-242-6000

Running Time: 1hr, 30mins

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  East Texas Hot Links Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...This is one of those plays where the storm that comes after the calm works all the better when the tranquillity fools you. So it goes here, as characters like Adolph (Willie B.), Delmus Green (Luce Metrius), Columbus Frye (Alfred Wilson), Roy Moore (Kelvin Roston Jr.) XL Dancer (Namir Smallwood) and the tough-eyed Buckshot (Antoine Pierre Whitfield) navigate their relationships with each other under the eye of Boochie Reed (the definitive A.C. Smith). Some are pragmatists. Some better educated than others. Some don't see trouble coming. At least one is capable of unthinkable betrayal. Maybe all are capable of total selflessness. The play, then, is at once a mystery, a cautionary tale and a work of racial engagement."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...The current blistering production, full of both comic exuberance and inevitable tragedy — all animated by the kind of vividly defined characters and layered storytelling fans of August Wilson will appreciate — is shattering. Think of it as a Greek drama (a character even makes the analogy), but one that unfolds in the Top O’ the Hill Cafe, a time-worn shack outfitted with a bar and jukebox that serves as a haven for black men in a rural, Ku Klux Klan-infested corner of East Texas, circa 1955. Change may be down the road a piece as a big new highway project is underway. And while it has provided jobs for some, no one in is convinced it will help business or change the racial divide. And it already has been the scene of some worrisome “incidents.”"
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...On the other hand, A.C. Smith's Boochie Reed and Antoine Pierre Whitfield's Buckshot can't get any sharper. Both characters are late arrivals to the cafe gabfest, which may help account for their exceptional presence, but both also bring an intensity-a sense of real stakes, real danger, real being-that's missing wherever else you look."
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Tony Adler

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Eugene Lee's lyrical tragedy "East Texas Hotlinks" is an exquisite song of betrayal, an ironic ballad of the enemy within. And it is pitch perfect in a fluent, wryly comedic and quite astonishing production directed by Ron OJ Parson at Writers Theatre."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...This production is 90 minutes (no intermission) of love and hate being expressed by those we meet and those who we learn are lurking in the woods. The set (Jack Magaw) truly makes one feel that they have gone back in time to a dinky hotlinks4little bar in the middle of nowhere you would want to be. The costumes (Christine Pascual) are of the times and the lighting (Kathy A. Perkins) and sound (Joshua Horvath) add to the overall picture that both Parson and Lee have created. Matt Hawkins’ fight choreography is amazing and the props handled by Scott Dickens are the finishing touches on a near perfect production."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...What this play presents is a uniquely intimate group portrait deeply grounded in specificity. This is the 1950s. This is Texas. But it also is so much more. It is several tragedies all at once not the least of which is the sense that there is no peaceable outcome possible to this conflict though the one that does occur is horrifying beyond description."
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Kevin Greene

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...These Hot Links aren’t to be confused with sausages. They are the explosive racial attitudes that link together the members of this community and that link each of them to the white power, that’s as close as the burning cross one character sees in the distance. It also relates to the links in the food chain, with Adolph noting how wild dogs will eat the runt of their litter, and how egos consume other egos. The young feed on the old for their knowledge, and the whites…well, it becomes obvious through this gut-wrenching play who they eat in this sizzling drama about survival."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...“East Texas Hot Links” originated in the early 1990’s and I saw the production at the Onyx Theatre in 1996 (also directed by Parsons) that was shattering in its intensity. The Writers Theatre production also does the play proud. The drama may not be a classic in the mold of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running” but it convincingly admits the audience into the claustrophobic world of beleaguered black life 60 years ago, where daily existence was an exercise in survival. Even deducting some points for the insufficiently established eruption of violence at the end, the play entertains with its colorful and eloquent dialogue and earns high honors for the acting skills of everyone involved."

Dan Zeff

Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...Director Ron OJ Parson has a storied history with East Texas Hot Links. He directed it for Onyx Theatre in 1995, announcing himself as a director of immense power and Onyx as a company to watch. Onyx folded years ago, but Parson has made an enduring name for himself as one of the city's best directors. His remount of East Texas Hot Links for Writers Theatre reveals a drama that hasn't aged a lick over the years. Lee's brutal, lyrical play hits on a visceral level as it reveals a world of more than half a century ago, but all too familiar right now."

Catey Sullivan

   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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