If you’re looking for a play to prepare you for the Thanksgiving season, you might want to check out STEW, staged by Shattered Globe and now playing at Theater Wit. Written by Zora Howard and directed by Malkia Stampley, STEW tells the tale of the Tucker women, all gathering (and bickering) at the family home for one very important meal. Indomitable veteran Chicago actor Velma Austin plays Mama, the heart and the rock of the family, and of the ensemble of actors. She’s a joy to watch at work, and the stage is clearly her home. Austin deftly plays the overconfident matriarch welcoming her brood home. Though she is aging and just might need a little help around the house, she is too fiercely independent to admit it—to others or herself—consequences be damned.
STEW Through 10/22: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM; Fri 10/7,6:45 PM touch tour, 8 PM performance with audio description, Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, 773-975-8150, sgtheatre.org, $45 ($35 seniors, $25 under 30, $15 students)
Jazzma Pryor plays Lillian, expertly embodying the quintessential eldest sister, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders alone (regardless of whether or not anyone asked her to). As Lillian watches her younger sister Nelly (a wonderfully flighty Jasmine Cheri Rush) indulge in extravagant levels of irresponsibility, the walls begin to crack. Watching it all is Lillian’s daughter, the adorable Lil’ Mama, (a hilarious Demetra Dee) receiving a firsthand primer on who she will grow up to be.
While not a perfect play, STEW is a tasty little spoonful of Black family life, and a reflection on how it takes a combination of the salty and sweet flavors of love and grief to make the most delicious memories.