"The Ripple, The Wave that Carried Me Home" Reminds us of a Dark PastJanuary 21, 2023 2:08 Comments 
"The Ripple, The Wave that Carried Me Home" tells of racism, segregation, family, and home, and it does so in barely 90 minutes.
Christian Anderson's play focuses on Janice, a young professional black woman with a career in Ohio, who receives a call requesting her to speak at a dedication ceremony in her hometown of Beacon, Kansas. The folks in Beacon have decided to name the local swimming pool after Janice's father, who was instrumental in integrating the city's pools.
The call brings back memories Janice of growing up in Beacon, the prejudices her family suffered, her parents' fight for social justice, and her strained familial relationships.
Chicago's Goodman Theatre production of "Ripple" was powerful, humorous, and moving. The story is told in flashbacks to the family history. Each actor had to play themself at different ages, and they did so perfectly. Among a small cast, Chrstiana Clar stood out as Janice, as did Ronald L. Conner and Aneisa J. Hicks as Janice's parents, Edwin and Helen.
We saw the passion and pain of growing up in segregated 1960s America. A police officer's assault of Helen during a traffic stop was particularly disturbing. Flashing forward to the "present," we saw the family's reaction to the Rodney King verdict as it played out on national TV.
Through it all, we saw the presence of water. A pool lit with fluorescent blue light was always visible on stage - a reminder of the segregation that existed explicitly for so long in this country - a symbol of every separate but unequal public service in places across America.
This play made me smile. But it also made me sorry for some of my country's history.