Five elderly African-American women, who otherwise look like they could run a church social committee, are sitting in chairs in a living room with a variety of guns on their laps. They're cleaning the weapons in preparation for a bank heist, an unconventional scheme to finance their educational aid organiation. So begins Act 2 of the screwball comedy Steal Away by Regina King.
The women wanted a loan, but it didn't come through. One of the young women they want to send to college, Tracy Kyzer (the poised Jade Radford), refuses to take no for an answer. So these do-gooders are going the Robin Hood route. They don men's suits and hats for their daring raid.
"Young folks need to be heard, even if what they say don't make no sense," exclaims one gang member in a line typical of the comic tone woven throughout.
Bean co-directed Steal Away with Gail Glapion, who also appears as one of the aspiring criminals, along with Linda Merritt, Venita Matthews, Morgan Lawrence and Nadine Cutno. They create a charming, offbeat world, although the arthritic shuffling meant to make the women seem older is a little overdone. John Grimsley designed the effective set and lighting.
The persistent problems created by prejudice in our society are present in Steal Away, but they are dealt with humorously. The saving grace here is laughter.
Anthony Bean Theater is celebrating its 10th anniversary with some favorite past productions. Steal Away was the first play ever done at the theater. In the last decade, Bean has worked a minor miracle with the auditorium space, transforming it from what seemed like a bare basketball court to the present comfortable, attractive theater. — Dalt Wonk
8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 3 p.m. Sun.; through Feb. 28
Anthony Bean Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-7529; www.anthonybeantheater.com