If you can't stand the heat...you know the rest. So do the five women sweating away in the airless kitchen of Don Wilson Glenn's American Menu. Inside the small-town diner in East Texas, Mary, Buella, Martha, Johnnie Mae and Na cook up quite a drama as they bitch, dream and try to make sense of their lives in a segregated country. It's 1968, a month after Martin Luther King's assassination, and much of black America, including these women, is hopeless about the future. A boy's mutilated body is discovered near Mary's house, which only intensifies the women's hopelessness and awakens in them the need to act. American Menu, which The New York Times called "meaningful...observant," quickly picks up steam, and by the end, it reaches full boil.
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In a recent interview with Ensemble Theatre's dramaturge, Glenn explained his play's message. "One universal cry; this is how the play speaks to so many people on so many levels." 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays. Through February 28. Ensemble Theatre, 3535 Main. For information, call 713-520-0055 or visit www.ensemblehouston.com. $12 to $35.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 30. Continues through Feb. 28, 2010