(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in the New York Times, 1/19.)
Conversation sings and swings, bends and bounces and hits heaven smack in the clouds, in the glorious new production of August Wilson’s “Jitney,” which opened on Thursday night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theater. In Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s vital revival of a 1982 play only now making its Broadway debut, words take on the shimmer of molten-gold notes from the trumpets of Louis and Miles.
How sweet the sound. And how sorrowful and jubilant, as life in a storefront taxi company in an African-American neighborhood in Pittsburgh comes to feel like a free-form urban concerto, shaped by the quick-witted, improvisatory spirit that makes jazz soar.
Acted by an impeccably tuned ensemble, this early work from an American master makes you realize how much the New York theater has missed the voice of Wilson, who died in 2005. And it feels somehow fitting that this play — part of one of the great cycles of modern drama — should open on the eve of Donald J. Trump’s inauguration.