CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.
Film Review: Brainiac Fulfillment is the Key to ‘Hidden Figures’
CHICAGO – In America, there is the history we have, and the history that we want to have happened. “Hidden Figures” falls into the second category, but it’s presented in such a way that it fulfills the goal – tell an amazing story about a group of African American women who helped launch men into space.
The performances, the composition and the style of the film is all earnestness, but that does not distract from the purpose of the story and the fact that it is based on what actually happened. It succeeds mostly through the performances, as Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and newcomer Janelle Monaé express the dignity, frustration and personal triumphs of having brilliant theoretic minds that were born into the obstacles of being African American (and women!) in the 1950s/60s USA. Even in the groan-worthy moments – also known as modifying history – the film reaches for a higher purpose. It becomes inspirational and aspirational.
The film begins with three African American women, Katherine (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy (Octavia Spencer) and Mary (Janelle Monaé) working on a disabled car in late 1950s Virginia. Inevitably, a police officer comes by and wonders why they are taking up his space. It turns out they all work for NASA in their “computing” department, because of their talents for working complex mathematics to launch a human being into orbit.
The story follows the three through the trials of being both black and brilliant. American apartheid still exists, but at NASA it’s about the brainpower over the racial divide. The space program is overseen by officious Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), a no nonsense manager who doesn’t have time for particulars, including naysayers like his associate Paul (Jim Parsons). If John Glenn is to orbit the planet, they will need all the creative minds on earth.
L-R: Janelle Monaé, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in ‘Hidden Figures’
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Releasing