Food prep and relationships stir the pot in ‘Hot Wing King’


Joseph Anthony Byrd (from left), Jabari Khaliq, Breon Arzell, Thee Ricky Harris and Jos N. Banks star in "The Hot Wing King" at Writers Theatre.

(From left) Joseph Anthony Byrd, Jabari Khaliq, Breon Arzell, Thee Ricky Harris and Jos N. Banks in “The Hot Wing King” at Writers Theatre. (Photo by Michael Brosilow) in ‘The Hot Wing King’ at Writers Theatre


Winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Writers Theatre audiences learn there’s a lot more to “The Hot Wing King” than food prep for the Annual Hot Wing Festival taking place the next day in Memphis.

As Cordell (Breon Arzell) prepares his marinade and chicken wings with boyfriend Dwayne (Jos N. Banks) and friends the backstory of their relationship and their family problems boil over when Dwayne’s nephew, 16-year-old Everett (Jabari Khaliq), knocks at their door. 

Written by Katori Hall and directed by Lili-Anne Brown, the story slowly unfolds with dropped remarks until the audience fully realizes all the problems facing the characters just as the production breaks for intermission.

The nice, upscale house on stage is owned by Dwayne who is manager of an upscale Memphis hotel and likes to manage people’s lives.  Cordell, moved from St. Louis to Tennessee when the two fell in love. Everett is the son of Dwayne’s sister who tragically died a couple of years ago. Dwayne feels responsible for her death.

The acting is excellent, but I think the audience would appreciate the problems the partners faced if they understood more of the back story earlier instead of just clues from remarks. 

The good news is that it all works out.

Details: “The Hot Wings King” is at Writers Theatre ,325 Tudor Court, Glencoe through July 21, 2024. Run time: about 2 hours, 20 minutes with one intermission. For tickets and other information visit Writers Theatre or call (847) 242-6000.

Jodie Jacobs

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