Articles tagged with: Steppenwolf Theatre
‘A Doll’s House, Part 2’ at Steppenwolf:
Sharp knock at the door, but is anyone there?
Review: Fifteen years after Nora Helmer famously – or perhaps infamously – walks out on husband and children at the end of Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House,” what do you know but she’s back, knocking on that same door, and not exactly bonnet in hand. Indeed, Nora has found great success as a writer. What an intriguing conceit for the sequel Lucas Hnath has ventured in “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” now at Steppenwolf. Except that I came away with the distinct sense that Nora, the woman of the hour, was missing. ★★
‘You Got Older’ at Steppenwolf: In a theatrical clinic, Francis Guinan lifts play to higher level
Review: Clare Barron’s shadow-streaked comedy “You Got Older,” about a father’s death and a daughter’s transfiguration, is an oddly – I might even say deceptively – unsatisfying play. The real reward of Steppenwolf Theatre’s staging directed by Jonathan Berry, and the only thing that might draw me back to see it again, is the ever-luminous Francis Guinan’s performance as a loving father fighting a losing battle with cancer. ★★★
‘The Minutes’ at Steppenwolf: At a small-town council meeting, comedy takes shattering turn
Review: The individual agendas of the Big Cherry village council members, in Tracy Letts’ comedy-chiller of a new play “The Minutes,” are credibly various and amusingly personal. What really resonates, however, is the one thing they all hold in common — the raw, elemental conviction that safeguards and perpetuates Big Cherry as a community. ★★★★
Theater as crucible: Two Arthur Miller classics bridge high peaks of Goodman, Steppenwolf
Review: If you have not yet seen both “A View from the Bridge” at Goodman Theatre and “The Crucible” at Steppenwolf Theatre – well, it’s Miller time. These are mesmerizing productions of two of Arthur Miller’s finest plays, and impressive reminders of why Goodman and Steppenwolf hold such eminent places on Chicago’s – indeed, the nation’s – theater scene. Each of these parallel runs has only a handful of performances remaining. Together, they make for a stunning one-two theatrical punch. Both ★★★★★
‘Hir’ at Steppenwolf: In battle on home front, now a gender mine field, a Marine seeks cover
Review: Taylor Mac’s tumultuous, off-the-wall play “Hir,” currently on stage in a bristling production at Steppenwolf, is about battles, foreign and domestic. And if the shape-changing military one in the Middle East has been going on for a long time, the societal one at the center of “Hir” is just building a good head of steam. Ex-Marine Isaac has come home to a household in chaos, and to a new sexual order – a whole new declension of genders in which “he” and “she” are but instances on a daunting new landscape. ★★★★
‘Pass Over’ at Steppenwolf: Two black guys hanging out on a corner, waiting for to go
Review: We are political creatures. We all have our world-view, our personal dispositions, our social sympathies and antipathies. That applies as well to creations for the stage. It is an ineluctable truth that all theater is political, even if some plays are more specifically agenda-driven than others. That said, I have short patience with the more overt, I might say hell-bent, forms of agenda theater. They tend not to be very good drama. Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s “The Exonerated” springs to mind. Antoinette Nwandu’s play “Pass Over,” in its world premiere run, is no simple rant but does come with its own set of problems. ★★
‘Linda Vista’ at Steppenwolf: Letts’ new play frames photographer who can’t get selfie right
Review: Wheeler, the only name he goes by, is a smart guy, a good photographer and his own worst enemy. He’s the case study in self-destruction at the center of Tracy Letts’ new play “Linda Vista,” now headed into the final week of a crackling production directed by Dexter Bullard at Steppenwolf Theatre. Wheeler – played with barbed comic timing and ruinous ferocity by Ian Barford – imagines himself astride the world, or indeed like Jupiter above it, taking the measure of all the things and people in it and finding that people mostly don’t measure up. ★★★★
‘Mary Page Marlowe’ at Steppenwolf: In Letts’ new play, woman adrift searches for an anchor
Review: It was a happy announcement for a theater company, but happier still for any theater buff within driving distance of Chicago: Steppenwolf’s decision to extend the run of Tracy Letts’ psychologically incisive and finely crafted new play “Mary Page Marlowe.” This brilliant existential portrait of a woman out of touch with herself, lost to the world, and seemingly condemned to her lot from birth, bears a qualitative stamp worthy of “August: Osage County,” which brought Letts the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. ★★★★★
Role Playing: Danny McCarthy, pushing broom in ‘The Flick,’ finds vital pulse in long silences
Interview: Danny McCarthy calls it a sweeping-dance, the closely choreographed stretches of, well, sweeping that often – and silently – occupy the two men at the center of Annie Baker’s play “The Flick,” winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, at Steppenwolf Theatre. “Actually, you try to stay mentally active while you’re out there,” says McCarthy, who plays Sam, a quiet man in his mid-thirties who works on the cleanup crew at a small movie house, clearing away the night’s detritus, and grapples with the haunting malaise in his life.
Theater 2015-16: Steppenwolf 40th anniversary boasts premieres by Frank Galati, Tracy Letts
13th in a series of season previews: Two world premieres and three first-time Chicago stagings form a doubly celebratory season at Steppenwolf Theatre – marking the company’s 40th anniversary and honoring the legacy of its longtime artistic director, Martha Lavey, who stepped down at the end of last season. Steppenwolf opens with the world premiere of Frank Galati’s adaptation of “East of Eden,” John Steinbeck’s sweeping, tumultuous epic novel about family dynamics and fortunes set mainly in California early in the 20th century.
‘Grand Concourse’ at Steppenwolf: Soup’s on, but it’s boiling over with angst, anger and evil
Review: The fascination of Heidi Schreck’s play “Grand Concourse,” now at Steppenwolf Theatre, lies not so much in the personal crisis of a nun whose faith is wavering as it is in the human response of a good person directly affected by unmitigated evil. That moral dilemma keeps us hanging on through the last syllable, or rather sigh, of this well-made drama. ★★★
Role Playing: Francis Guinan embraces conflict of father who fled from grim truth in ‘The Herd’
Interview: The alienated, indeed despised husband and father Francis Guinan portrays in Rory Kinnear’s marvelous first play “The Herd,” at Steppenwolf Theatre, elicits deeply ambivalent feelings, and not just from the audience. Guinan admits he also sees the guy in decidedly conflicted terms.
‘The Herd’ at Steppenwolf: It’s Dad at the door, but it could be the wolf – he’s so not welcome
Review: Ah, family values. Mom, Dad, the kids. The dysfunction, the divorce, the alienation, the animosity. All the things that make a house a home are piled into “The Herd,” a smashing first play by Rory Kinnear now fuming through its U.S. premiere at Steppenwolf Theatre. No need to equivocate. It is simply not to be missed. ★★★★★
‘Airline Highway’ at Steppenwolf: Characters outshine drama in Lisa D’Amour’s new play
Review: Lisa D’Amour’s latest play, “Airline Highway,” now in its world premiere run at Steppenwolf Theatre, pulls together an intriguing mélange of characters from what might euphemistically be called a subculture of contemporary New Orleans. They are a collection of losers. But memorable. Indeed, D’Amour’s sharply drawn prostitutes, addicts and schemers leave a more vivid impression than her troubled drama. ★★★
Theater 2014-15: Ready for something new? Drop in any time this season at Steppenwolf
17th in a series of season previews: The 2014-15 season at Steppenwolf Theatre is for drama buffs with a taste for adventure. Every play on the calendar is new to Chicago. One show is an American first, and also waiting in the wings is a world premiere. Steppenwolf opens with the Chicago unveiling of “The Night Alive” by Conor McPherson, as hot a playwright as you’ll find in the theater world today. If you haven’t seen “The Seafarer,” or if it isn’t at the top of your must-see list, raise your hand. Thought so.
‘Russian Transport’ swoops into Steppenwolf, delivering dark cargo of corruption and terror
Review: The young playwright Erika Sheffer’s stark and chilling tragedy-as-morality play “Russian Transport,” just opened in a hard-edged production at Steppenwolf Theatre, offers an unvarnished look at the immigrant experience recalling Arthur Miller’s “A View From the Bridge.” ★★★★
Chicago Theatre Week: Curtain rises on Act 2 with now-eager audience on edge of its seats
Preview: When the League of Chicago Theatres decided to stage its first Chicago Theatre Week last year, offering discounted tickets to some 100 productions and other perks in a sort of regional stimulus package, no one knew how it would go – whether the public would bite. What happened was more like a gobble: All 6,000 tickets in the discount pool were snapped up. Now Chicago Theatre Week is back, with the 2014 version of dramas for $15 and $30, and this time the presenters exude optimism.
Theater 2013-14: Joan Allen’s return and five premieres will light marquee at Steppenwolf
Eighth in series of season previews: In a 2013-14 season that artistic director Martha Lavey promises will “make you laugh out loud and think deeply about how we live and love,” Steppenwolf Theatre offers two world premieres and two Chicago premieres – and to open the season an American premiere featuring the long-deferred homecoming of company co-founder Joan Allen.
Role Playing: Gary Perez channels his Harlem youth as quiet, unflinching Julio in ‘The Hat’
Interview: One of the most appealing, indeed endearing, performances to be seen on Chicago theater stages this season is Gary Perez’s quietly philosophical, yet vaguely dangerous turn as Julio, the gay cousin and one true friend in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play “The ______ With the Hat” at Steppenwolf. Perez credits director Anna D. Shapiro with framing Julio as worldly-wise and possessed of a Zen-like calm, the one really centered character in a collection of loose cannons.
Amid a storm of obscenities, but with a flair, Steppenwolf pulls off a hysterical ‘Hat’ trick
Your drama is waiting: Chicago Theatre Week offers citywide smorgasbord at savory prices
Report: Tickets will be $15 and $30.
‘Good People’ at Steppenwolf: Of earthly salt and a wounded soul desperately seeking work
Role Playing: Ian Barford revels in the wiliness of an ambivalent rebel in Doctorow’s ‘March’
Interview: He’s just making it up as he goes along, the Confederate turncoat portrayed by Ian Barford in Steppenwolf Theatre’s current production of “The March.” That’s what Barford likes about his opportunistic character called Arley. And in a sense, the actor says, he’s doing much the same thing on stage from night to the next, trying to track the pitch and roll of a soldier who’s trying to find his own meaning.
‘Penelope’ at Steppenwolf: Four guys in an empty pool, down to life’s last threads
And Odysseus is bearing down. 3 stars.
Role Playing: Kirsten Fitzgerald inhabits sorrow, surfs the laughs in ‘Clybourne Park’
Interview: Actor Kirsten Fitzgerald portrays two very different characters amid the hurlyburly of “Clybourne Park, the double-edged drama by Bruce Norris now playing at Steppenwolf Theatre through Nov. 13. She’s a grieving mother in 1959 and a self-interested lawyer 50 years later.
It’s a theatrical tour de force that Fitzgerald likens to acting in two different plays the same night.
John Malkovich stalks sopranos who suffer in song
John Malkovich plays a modern-day Jack the Ripper who has come back from death to make a charmingly creepy case for himself in “The Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer.”
Protecting the old neighborhood, but redefining the threat
“Clybourne Park” at Steppenwolf. Bias on the block. 5 stars!