Filament Theatre’s Think Fast, Jordan Chase!, written by Sonia Goldberg and directed by Jamal Howard, is full of plot twists which weave in and out of schoolyard and fantasy. Addressing difficult social scenarios that kids encounter, it opens with a plucky Jordan (Christabel Donkor) and her majestic bestie Mahari (Joolz Stroop) on the playground. Relations are quickly strained with the arrival of soft-spoken Ryan (Xela Rosas), a third wheel who Mahari has ill will toward. It gets ugly, complete with an ableist slur, and Jordan feels torn between defending the newcomer from unwarranted wrath or staying loyal to her friend.
Think Fast, Jordan Chase!
Through 4/16: Sat-Sun 2 PM, Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee, 773-270-1660, filamenttheatre.org, $15 adult, $12 children; recommended for 8+
Fortunately for Jordan, she has a wise and unflappable grandmother (RJ W. Mays) who she can summon and also an attentive audience who is consulted often throughout this choose-your-own-adventure-style play. Grandma Nicky provides Jordan with self-esteem support, while the audience helps to navigate what Jordan’s actual responses will be. Should she confront Mahari about harassing a schoolmate? And what type of character will she play in a side quest—astronaut, dragon, or pirate? Choose carefully!
Devised to keep young people engaged, the show emanates goodwill while not shying away from the modern-day conflicts that arise around identity. But the inclusivity goes beyond the show itself. The design and creative team took care to create hands-on activities in the entry space with a welcoming vibe. Accessibility representative and consultant Korey Joseph and scenic and properties designer Eleanor Kahn make the theater clearly navigable. (Nothing beats neon! Or cushions on the floor for the wiggly kids.) The audience participation is a gift that knocks down the fourth wall enough to allow us to encounter the struggle for equity and justice on the playground in just the right proportions. Best of all, Think Fast, Jordan Chase! doesn’t feed you a prepackaged moral but rather reveals the complexity of each character’s situation so that we can experience their epiphanies with them.