Chicago playwright and TimeLine Theatre Company Member Tyla Abercrumbie weaves a mother’s past with her daughters’ present in Relentless, a centuries-spanning tale of family, legacy, and progress set in the Black Victorian age, receiving its world premiere after a nearly two-year delay. TimeLine Company Member Ron OJ Parson directs Abercrumbie’s startling new work, which was developed through the company’s Playwrights Collective and now serves as the first production in TimeLine’s 25th Anniversary season.
Performances run through February 26, 2022 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. For tickets and information, visit timelinetheatre.com or call the TimeLine Box Office at (773) 281-8463 x6.
Set in the Black Victorian era, Relentless looks at the deep personal secrets we keep to protect the ones we love most. The year is 1919. After the death of their mother, two sisters come home to Philadelphia to settle her estate. Annelle is a happy socialite desperate to return to the safe illusion of a perfect life with her husband in Boston. Janet is a single, professional nurse, determined to change history and propel Black women to a place of prominence and respect. After discovering diaries left by their late mother, they find themselves confronted with a woman they never really knew, exposing buried truths from the past that are chillingly, explosively Relentless.
“I don’t know that this story has ever been told from the perspective of these types of characters, at least not in this genre,” said Abercrumbie, a veteran Chicago actor of stage and screen, best known most recently for her recurring role as Nina on Showtime’s The Chi. “Often the part of American history that is labeled Black History—specifically as it relates to how and when Black Victorians existed and were effective—is largely left out, somehow. Either it’s collectively agreed that it didn’t exist, or IF it did exist, its importance to the American landscape is deemed irrelevant or at best insignificant, and therefore a collective demand that it be forgotten or “gotten over” has been nurtured and accepted. Many of the themes the characters in Relentless deal with remain very relevant today—racism, sexism, feminism, poverty, mental illness, infant mortality, police brutality. Those battles have been relentlessly fought over and over, yet here we are in 2022 still fighting against the same injustices.”
It’s about time we see a play about the Black Victorian age,” said director Ron OJ Parson. “I am honored to be working on this play that explores us as a people at the forefront of a battle that continues today in our quest for equality. Thank you TimeLine, and thank you Tyla for this beautiful play.”
RELENTLESS PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE/EVENTS
Regular performances of Relentless continue through February 26: Wednesdays through Fridays at 7 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Exceptions: No 2 p.m. show Saturday, January 29. There is an added weekday matinee Tuesday, February 22 at 2 p.m.