‘Invisible’ reminds us of the power of bigotry and hate

 

L to R: Megan Kaminsky, Morgan Laurel Cohen, Barbara Roeder Harris, Richard Cotovsky. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
L to R: Megan Kaminsky, Morgan Laurel Cohen, Barbara Roeder Harris, Richard Cotovsky. (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

4 stars

The year is 1925 in the deep South and the KKK is expanding its reach to include the women folk who will spread their doctrine of racism against African Americans, Jews, immigrants and Catholics in Mounds, Mississippi.

Making its world premiere at Her Story Theatre, “Invisible” is an imaginary tale of one woman who can’t rationalize her involvement in the Women’s Ku Klux Klan movement with her own moral compass and sense of decency.

Mabel Carson’s friends have convinced her that this is the path to take to make America great with the slogan, “America for Americans.”  Yet when a reporter from the Chicago Tribune arrives on the scene, Mabel begins to question their ideals, methodology and the nature of true friendship.

Written by Mary Bonnett, artistic director of Her Story Theatre and directed by Cecilie Keenan, this dramatic depiction shares the forgotten story of “The Ladies of the Invisible Empire” who have become a mere footnote in history.

L to R: Lisa McConnell, Maddy Fleming (Photo by Michael Brosilow)
L to R: Lisa McConnell, Maddy Fleming (Photo by Michael Brosilow)

Leading the cast is Barbara Roeder Harrisas as Lucinda, the driving force behind the creation of the WKKK chapter. Her performance is top notch, while the audience looks on in disbelief.

Morgan Laurel Cohen is excellent as the put-upon Mabel Carson, who carries a sadness about her with a big secret she finally spills. Cohen’s transformation is phenomenal to watch as she finally reveals her secret and the impact is shocking.

As investigative journalist David Stein, Richard Cotovsky plays the role with honesty, warmth and a sense of humor. He is not afraid to expose his identity as a Jew, regardless of the consequences.

Standouts include Maddy Fleming as 11-year old “Ghost Girl” who can’t understand why everyone fears and hates her and Lisa McConnell as the multi-racial Jubilation, who will not stand idly by as acts of violence confront her town.

Kudos to projection designers Parker Langvardt and Jimmy Marcos who incorporate live footage of the KKK onto the stage, creating a sense of realism and dread.

Unfortunately, this whole scenario is as relevant today as it was back then. Racism has once again raised its ugly head in the U.S. The cries of “America First” is a slogan we’ve heard all too often in recent times, which makes the audience question, “What year is this again?”

Join in the after-play discussion with the author Mary Bonnett and Cecilie Keenan.

DETAILS: “Invisible” is at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont, Chicago, through Nov. 3, 2019. Running time: Approximately 2 hours with one intermission. For tickets and other information, call (773) 327-5252 or visit Stage 773.

Mira Temkin

For more shows visit Theatre in Chicago

 

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