It’s inevitable that “life” happens, but sometimes what’s going on underneath the surface is where our real attention should lie when there’s still a chance to purge our problems. For Cutler, Toledo, Slow Drag, and Levee of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” a play written by the late August Wilson, the veil of unconscious hurts becomes as harkening a reality as an overcast sky, especially while trying to exist in the 1920s.
It’s no surprise that Penumbra Theater’s production of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” is being presented at the Guthrie Theater; bypassing the walls of their cozy St. Paul home altogether. The bravado of this piece sweeps audiences up into the internal prison that is the struggles within these characters. Even in as large a room as the Guthrie boasts, you can still feel the claustrophobia; you're pinned against the corner of your seat— dying inside, as you suffer the struggles of these characters in the plays journey, as told through the brilliant direction of Lou Bellamy, and from the mouths of an extraordinary cast.