REVIEW: “It Just Takes Time”

By Alexandria Nyx PZ’26

Source: @ijtt_musical (Instagram).

“It Just Takes Time” by Annika Hoseth (PO ’23) is a new musical that tells the story of the lives of multiple characters as the pandemic takes hold and changes their lives forever. While it features extraordinary theatricality, it contains very Eurocentric views that undermine the devastation of the pandemic on the US population, especially those communities which live their lives on the margins of society. 

As an individual with personal connections to most of the cast and crew (including Hoseth), this piece is in no way an attack on the persons involved in this production. It is, however, an objective critique of some of the creative choices made in the writing of this production. Hoseth is only implicated in this piece as she is the writer. As a person of color, it is vital for me to call out harmful narratives and elements in theatrical productions that harm me and those like me. Especially as we move away from eurocentric theatre and a more inclusive one that considers BIPOC voices and artists. 

Before diving into the critiques, I want to note that I thoroughly enjoyed this production. It takes extreme talent to write and direct a show. It takes even more for that show to be a musical. I commend Hoseth, her cast, and her crew for successfully assembling this production. The show was hilarious, kept me engaged, and contained beautiful scenic compositions. Every theatrical aspect was wonderfully executed. 

In “It Just Takes Time,” the main character, Franny, is a college freshman who gets sent home after her college closes due to the uncertainty of the Coronavirus spreading. Franny’s family also deals with financial uncertainty as her family’s restaurant takes a hit due to the pandemic and a new Italian restaurant opening across the street. The musical also features other storylines, such as Jill, who experiences anxiety amid the chaos. Elmer is an elderly-aged man who works at Costco. Greg is a teacher who gets lonely during the pandemic. Carly is a dog who’s been at the adoption center the longest and is looking for an owner. Nina is an internet influencer. The show even features a news anchorman who’s super panicky and tends to spread misinformation. 

There are two main things I take issue with in this production. The first is the depictions of the riots and looting that occurred in 2020. In this scene, ensemble members riot inside Costco. They trash the store, cause chaos, and talk about masks and America, among many other things. On the one hand, this alludes to the chaos in grocery stores during the early months of the pandemic. People were (for whatever reason) buying a bunch of toilet paper and supply chains were halted, causing product shortages. Everyone was scared to go out and shop. However, where this scene gets problematic is the implication that the looting and rioting happened in favor of American patriotism and conservatives who were unwilling to wear a mask. It’s incredibly eurocentric, ignorant, and dismissive of the real reason the looting, rioting, and protesting all happened; the murder of George Floyd Jr. on May 25, 2020. Floyd’s murder is just another name in the tally of innocent black lives lost to police brutality.

Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. Akai Gurley. The list goes on and on and on. It calls into question why Hoseth chose to depict the rioting in the way it was presented, as opposed to the actual reason it occurred. Understanding that it may not fit the narrative Hoseth wanted to tell, however, when we don’t tell these stories as they happened, it becomes an erasure of the truth and the intertwined black lives. The stories of those lost to police brutality deserve to have their stories told with total clarity, no matter the context they’re being told or the medium in which they are being told. 

Secondly, Hoseth writes in her director’s note about wanting to “explore different perspectives.” Arguably she does this as each character has a different storyline, yet the different perspectives explored are very surface-level. While the storylines of Elmer and Jill touch on deeper topics — such as anxiety during the pandemic or older adults working to support themselves— some of the other characters’ most significant conflicts are so heavily rooted in privilege. This is further exacerbated by the majority of the cast being white. However, I’ll touch on that in a second. 

My main complaint with the storylines in this production is that most of them are rooted in privilege and don’t fully touch on the pandemic’s impact on marginalized communities. As of April 7, 2020, Black Chicagoans comprised 30.1% of the city’s population, yet made up 52.1% of COVID-19 infections and 68.6% of deaths¹, which is just one example of impact. Marginalized folks typically have less (if any) access to healthcare. They get sick but can’t afford to quarantine. They live in very overcrowded homes only meant to hold a quarter of the people living there. People lost their jobs.² Marginalized people died at a higher rate than white people.³ Where was any of that? Why weren’t those stories not present? I need to say that one struggle does not invalidate another, and we all struggle in one way or another. However, this was a fantastic opportunity to make a statement and include those who so often live their lives on the margins and were gravely affected by the pandemic.⁴ And for me, at least, it’s a slap in the face to write about exploring different perspectives without actually taking the time to take a deep dive, educate, and include these stories. 

It’s also important to me to talk about intent versus impact. As a classmate of Hoseth, I don’t fully believe that the intention behind this production and the things I’ve pointed out were malicious. However, as a person of color to whom these things pertain, I was negatively impacted by what I saw. We already attend a consortium of institutions where it’s hard to find your place as a BIPOC individual; we fight tooth and nail for affinity spaces programming for our community and admin support and institutional resources. Then we put on big, meaningful productions like this, and the stories of me and my people are left out of it. 

As Hoseth takes this show wherever it goes next, she can reevaluate the story being told here (and what’s not being told) so that we remain cognizant of how it affects the audience members. I also hope that as American theatre and the theatre community here at the 5Cs evolve, we are consciously making shows that pertain to all community members. When we write shows about a shared experience, we don’t exclude the experiences of a specific group.

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