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  King Hedley II at Court Theatre

King Hedley II

Court Theatre
5535 S. Ellis Avenue Chicago

Placing his hopes and dreams on the line, a man pieces together his life in Pittsburgh after seven years in prison. Family ties are tested and crime and retribution collide in August Wilson's ninth play in the American Century Cycle-Court's eighth production in our ongoing commitment to producing all ten plays of the cycle. Nationally acclaimed for his direction of August Wilson's plays, Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson brings a depth of humanity to Wilson's interrogation of African American life in the 1980s.

Thru - Oct 13, 2019

Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 7:30pm
Fridays: 7:30pm
Saturdays: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Sundays: 2:00pm & 7:30pm

Price: $37.50-$84

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 773-753-4472

Running Time: 2hrs, 40mins; one intermission

Court Theatre Seating Chart

  King Hedley II Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"...Parson’s Wilson plays have several common signatures: fast pacing, high stakes and a roaring jazz accompaniment. But he understands here that whereas most Wilson plays have a confident protagonist — even if misguidedly so — the title character in “Hedley II” is a desperate mix of passion, determination and resentment, He’s an Oedipus-like character trapped in a cycle play of his own, desperately trying to grow some new roots and escape but ultimately thwarted not just by the previous generations of his own family but by the America whence his ancestors were brought on fear of violent death."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"..."Hedley" offers plenty to engage with. The specter of mortality, whether it's the fresh grief of new losses or the reverberations of decades-old killings, hangs heavy over the characters here; four of them brandish guns at some point, and the only question is which one will go off first. Yet despite its many dark tones, it also brings more raucous humor to the table than some of Wilson's more somber tragedies."
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Kirs Vire

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Director Parson deftly navigates the relentless waves of grief that buffet Hedley's kingdom by offering frequent comedic beats, leaving the audience unmoored and vulnerable for the next sucker punch. One of the standout emotional moments is a showstopper monologue delivered by Kierra Bunch, who plays Hedley's girlfriend Tonya, where she reckons with the nature of foresight, love, mercy, and a subject that still remains taboo."
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Sheri Flanders

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...Fortunately, director Ron OJ Parson's six-member cast arrives well-equipped with the verbal, as well as physical, stamina to maintain the necessary level of suspense for the duration, deftly navigating abrupt tonal changes and long, contemplative, often inevitably disruptive, monologues with minimal evidence of fatigue. Likewise contributing to the ambience of a world fraught with ominous portent is a technical team endowing every detail of the dramatic environment with hidden meaning, from the vivid hues of the women's clothing, to the harsh light from upstairs windows, to a thunderstorm whose cold wind you can feel sweep through the auditorium."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Of the 10 plays the make up August Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle, a decade by decade series of tableaux depicting the African American experience through the 20th century, "King Hedley II" may be the least familiar to theater audiences. But this grim, ultimately crushing drama is by no means the least potent. Witness Court Theatre's knock-out production featuring a stellar cast under the wise direction of Ron OJ Parson."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...Director Ron OJ Parson helps us to see August Wilson's vision for this play through three generations of specific woven characters "Seven Guitars." Parson tells backstories in his galvanizing truth of knowing what's right and what's wrong. All while trying to cope with the breakdown of civility in the black community. Hedley is masterfully done. Parson has skillfully given us another brilliant production."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Ron OJ Parson is master at his craft and once again has shown the skill and passion he brings to his work. Every thing in this production is meticulous and tightly wrought. The cast works so well together and each performer is completely immersed in their character. This play is superbly directed; kudos for another outstanding production. The standing ovation given by the audience at the end, is testimony to how good this play is.x
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Michael Horn

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...You can hear sirens cut through the walls of Court Theatre in Hyde Park. They're the real thing, shrieking in the night rain, before and after the dramatic action contained within. "God's only in charge of some things," says King (Kelvin Roston Jr.) in August Wilson's "King Hedley II." "I set me out a little circle and anything come inside my circle I say what happen and don't happen.""
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Irene Hsiao

Chicago Theatre Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Make no mistake – August Wilson was a remarkable talent, and one of the 20th century’s finest playwrights. “Fences,” “Seven Guitars,” “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” “Radio Golf,” and “Gem of the Ocean” are all exemplary works; yet, Wilson definitely wrote some weaker material, and although I understand Court’s drive to perform all 10 plays of the American Century Cycle, I eagerly await the end of the cycle, so that we can see works from newer, more exciting playwrights of color take center stage."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...“King Hedley II” is a long play, though it has been pruned from its original extended length. What survives now remains a titanic achievement. Still, it is a difficult play and likely won’t be revived frequently, especially because so many Wilson dramas have better commercial histories. So now’s the time for viewers, Wilson completists and newcomers alike, to catch the drama at the Court during its comparatively brief run."
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Dan Zeff - Highly Recommended

"...Wilson gives vivid voice to the life of his African American characters, showing them hemmed in and struggling for opportunity accorded readily to others. In King Hedley’s 1980s setting, amid trickle down economics, Americans saw greater divides between rich and poor, and rising mass incarceration. And against this backdrop, Wilson’s characters live life – with all its glory, and all its monumental tragedy, which abounds in the play."
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Bill Esler

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...Many in the audience, like this writer, were likely feeling a bit of exhaustion too. This is not only a long play, but its truth about Black experiences in America and the bleak realities of how the odds are stacked against getting ahead is wincingly painful and accurate—then as now."
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Amy Munice

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   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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