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Theater Review: A Hit Dog Will Holler

Kacie Rogers (left) and Cheri VandenHeuvel in A Hit Dog Will Holler


In some ways, a playwright’s greatest challenge is to craft a story that feels completely true, in both essence and specificity. Its setting can be a single room or a vast panorama, its characters two friends playing gin or a cast of Dickensian dozens. It can be of the moment or a period piece, pure fiction or biographical. But it must capture truth.

Those plays that capture truth—as the mesmerizing A Hit Dog Will Holler,  now playing at the Skylight Theatre, does—provoke and resonate. Playwright Inda Craig-Galván has built a powerful piece of art. “Built” because the layers of A Hit Dog Will Holler take the early 2020 zeitgeist of Black Lives Matter, social media, and a looming pandemic and add on deft character portraits. It tops it all off with the collective unconscious of the oppressed: violence casual and random, targeted and vile. The play builds truth upon truth, with only a couple of false notes.

Gina (Cheri VandenHeuvel) is a social media influencer and podcaster, working from home in February 2020. She’s also an activist, organizing a march and using her writing to inspire action. It’s pre-lockdown, but jittery Gina already has all her food delivered and avoids opening the door of her Chicago townhouse.

Dru (the exceptional Kacie Rogers) arrives to deliver food and Gina reluctantly allows her to come inside. Their meeting sets off a coincidence that’s used to bring the two characters back together, to bond over their shared sense of purpose. They circle each other like predator and prey before realizing they could achieve more if they align.

Gina and Dru are both traumatized yet both dedicated to fight back against racism and their own demons to make the world a better place. Their journey is mesmerizing and authentic, taking them to an ending that feels both like a satisfying culmination and a leap into the unknown.


Kacie Rogers watches a video of Cheri VandenHeuvel


Projected headlines support a sense of outrage as they chronicle regular killings of young Blacks both in and out of the national spotlight. Seeing Ahmaud Arbery’s headline projected while the trial against his killers is in progress ups the sense of currency.

Sound, lights and set design brilliantly support the cause, as does direction by Jon Lawrence Rivera, the co-founder of Playwrights’ Arena, which co-produced the show with Skylight Theatre Company. A Hit Dog Will Holler kicks off the first of four world premiere productions of what looks to be like an exciting 2021-2022 season at the Skylight.


Performances of A Hit Dog Will Holler are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm, Sun 3:00pm, and Mondays at 7:30pm through December 12 at the Skylight Theatre, 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave. The role of Drue is shared between Kacie Rogers and Donna Simone Johnson. For tickets, click here. Running time 90 minutes without an intermission. Watch-from-home performances available; see options here. In person, plan to get dinner or cocktails at Atrium before or after the show. Proof of vaccination and matching ID required.


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Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Theatre West.

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