World Premiere

January 21 - February 26, 2022

Relentless is now playing at Goodman Theatre! Learn more …

In this world premiere play developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective, Tyla Abercrumbie weaves a mother’s past with her daughters’ present in a centuries-spanning tale of family, legacy, and progress.

Set in the Black Victorian era, Relentless looks at the deep personal secrets we keep to protect the ones we love most. The year is 1919. After the death of their mother, two sisters come home to Philadelphia to settle her estate. Annelle is a happy socialite desperate to return to the safe illusion of a perfect life with her husband in Boston. Janet is a single, professional nurse, determined to change history and propel Black women to a place of prominence and respect. After discovering diaries left by their late mother, they find themselves confronted with a woman they never really knew, exposing buried truths from the past that are chillingly, explosively Relentless.

Relentless is the second play developed through TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective to receive a full production. The play received its first public reading as part of our inaugural First Draft Playwrights Collective Festival in December 2018.

PLEASE NOTE: Proof of vaccination and mask-wearing are required to attend.


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Production Team


* Member of Actors Equity Association

# Member of United Scenic Artists

~ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

+ TimeLine Company Member

^ TimeLine Associate Artist

§ TimeLine Playwrights Collective


  • Chicago Tribune

    Tyla Abercrumbie’s Relentless is the finest new play to emerge in Chicago since the days before the COVID-19 crisis that delayed this world premiere for so many months. Smart, challenging and deeply moving toward its close, Relentless is fully the equal of many of the serious dramas that populated Broadway this past fall. … Parson’s production crackles with pace. The play’s clashing ideas come fast and with a rare level of excitement and spontaneity … I could see a movie coming from this play, or a Netflix series, or, heck, a Broadway showcase. It’s that good. Catch it now.”

    —Chris Jones

  • Let's Play

    “One of those plays that should be considered a historical masterpiece that will have you spellbound and wanting more … Abercrumbie blows us away with this brilliant and wonderfully written play that points out one of the main reasons Black Americans feel enslaved by hatred and racism that still plagues us today. … [it’s a] once-in-a-lifetime play that anyone should see.”

    —Rick and Brenda McCain

  • Chicago Sun-Times

    “It’s remarkable how timely Relentless proves at a moment in 2022 when so many are expressing an aversion to engaging with history … bracing and truthful … terrific performances … a visual treat … Abercrumbie’s play will likely create some discomfort in the audience. We’d do well to sit in it.”

    —Kris Vire

  • Chicago Reader

    “Fits our current moment … the play isn’t just about exploring the past; it’s about pondering what the future might hold in an age of both unrest and promise. … a fascinating era, and one that we don’t often see from the point of view of characters like the ones Abercrumbie has created … [a] big-hearted and complex portrait of ‘Black Victorians,’ particularly Black women, standing on the verge of great change.”

    —Kerry Reid

  • Picks In Six

    “The gifted playwright Tyla Abercrumbie’s absorbing and expertly-crafted new play Relentless succeeds on so many complex and interwoven levels … Bakari’s heart-wrenching performance and the overwhelming resolve that churns within Dee’s powerful portrayal … breathe life into Abercrumbie’s rich, profoundly poetic text. In the hands of Parson—truly one of our great interpreters of new works—the humor, pathos and inhumanity of this piece strike often with stunning force and immediacy. … [it’s] one of the most visually satisfying and dramatically fulfilling experiences you will ever have in a theater.”

    —Ed Tracy

  • Windy City Times

    “The care and attention invested by director Ron OJ Parson, his ensemble of tireless actors and a team of superlative craftspersons, is evident in the agility with which the individual personae deftly navigate real-world references embedded in the dialogue, trading repartee with never a stumble for the speedy three hours (including an intermission) needed for both the characters, and us, to acknowledge the value of knowing the TRUTH, as well as the wisdom of revealing it to those who are still living.”

    —Mary Shen Barnidge

  • Stage and Cinema

    “As the snow falls, a fire is currently smoldering centerstage at Theater Wit. This slow-burning ember is better known as the World Premiere, Relentless. Playwright Tyla Abercrumbie’s ferocious, fierce, determined and monolithic three-hour play is definitely a conversation starter. … Relentless proved itself unrelenting and required viewing.”

    —Stephen Best

  • Splash Magazine

    “Beautifully directed by Ron OJ Parson … With this play, [Abercrumbie] offers so much to contemplate about the human condition, white privilege, and the seemingly endless Black struggle for justice and equality. … a powerful and stunning new work, seamlessly performed by a talented cast, and deftly produced by one of Chicago’s finest theaters.”

    —Fran Zell

  • Around the Town

    “TimeLine is back … with a vengeance. This is a sterling production with an amazingly powerful cast bringing these characters to life. The set (Jack Magaw) is flawless and makes the venue seem so much larger. Christine Pascual’s costumes are just right and Heather Gilbert’s lighting perfect. Christopher Kriz as always does original music that is perfect for the story.”

    —Alan Bresloff

  • Buzz Center Stage

    “One thing you can count in Chicago theatre, if you go to a TimeLine production, you will spend a great deal of time researching what you have just seen … TimeLine productions teach and enlighten, you walk out wiser than when you walked in. … The dialogue is fast, witty and engaging. … [Abercrumbie] was supported in the development process by TimeLine’s Playwrights Collective and the result is pure magic.”

    —Wesley David

  • Newcity

    “Though the characters in Relentless are educated and well-to-do, they are far from reserved in world view—their rage seethes, hidden only by the comfort of their surroundings and the decorum of their lives. … It’s a mistake to assume that the expression of Black anger is confined to those marching in the streets or staging acts of civil disobedience. Relentless makes the point that this rage is universal. … The story reveals layers of anger with nuance rather than big dramatic acts.”

    —Brian Hieggelke

  • Hyde Park Herald

    “The ending is simultaneously shocking and hopeful, a sign of the ongoing struggle and resilience that propel the action into the present. But what I find most impressive is how much I cared about each and every one of Abercrumbie’s characters. … Kudos also to every aspect of the physical production … one of the more compelling new works I’ve seen in a while.”

    —Anne Spiselman

  • GoPride

    “By the end, you will want it to keep going thanks to dynamic performances and intriguing storylines that are woven together throughout … The script is quite unpredictable and tackles tough topics. … Relentless deserves to take home many awards in the future … Make haste to see this production before it closes … don’t miss this story that will haunt you long after it is done!

    —Jerry Nunn

Discussions & Events

  • RELENTLESS: Post-Show Discussions
    Various Dates

    Join us for informal post-show discussions with members of the production team and cast.

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  • RELENTLESS: Virtual Post-Show Discussions
    Various Dates

    Join via Zoom for informal discussions with members of the production team and special guests.

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  • RELENTLESS: PRE-Show Discussions
    Various Dates

    Join us for an informal sneak peek into this production with members of the production team.

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  • RELENTLESS: Company Member Discussion
    Sunday, February 13 at 5pm

    Join us for an informal chat with TimeLine’s Company Members after today’s performance.

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  • Open Captioned Performances of RELENTLESS
    Various Dates

    Featuring a text display of words and sounds heard during the performance.

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  • RELENTLESS: Virtual Sunday Scholars Panel Discussion
    Sunday, February 20 at 7pm

    A one-hour online panel discussion featuring experts on the themes of the play.

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  • Audio Described Performance of RELENTLESS
    Friday, February 25 at 7pm

    Featuring audio description of visuals during the performance via individual headset.

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RELENTLESS is supported in part by