First Look 2013
Repertory overview by Katy Walsh
Steppenwolf Garage, 1624 N. Halsted (map)
thru Aug 25 | tickets: $20 | more info
Read entire overview
An overview of Steppenwolf’s annual new works festival
Steppenwolf Theatre presents 2013 First Look Repertory of New Work. The mission of the annual initiative is to develop new plays for future production at Steppenwolf Theatre and theatres across the country. All the shows are being performed at the Steppenwolf Garage Theatre running times between 80-90 minutes.
Edith Freni’s story captivates for the relational dysfunction between her characters. The family dynamics are the center of this intrigue. Freni fills a one room cabin with all the disappointment and tension from past failures. The volatile dialogue forces her characters to hear the ugly truths whether they deal with them or not. Freni’s original storytelling is full of twists for plenty of ‘what the f#ck’ moments. The show left me with questions, which is what made it so engaging. Freni builds more complexity in her characters with their untold stories. The audience is left puzzling together the unfinished lives after the unexpected outcomes. Under the direction of Steppenwolf Ensemble Member Tim Hopper, the cast morph perfectly into their roles. In particular, Rich Komenich is disturbingly noteworthy. (more info)
Janine Nabers pens a tale about a young person coming out of rehab. Nabers has a perplexed Annie (played effectively by Caroline Neff) try to figure out where she fits. The press materials say “Annie wanders the chaotic streets of a post-Hurricane Katrina Houston.” This backdrop isn’t apparent in the actual production. The few and vague references are more of a clunky distraction. Annie is really wandering a middle class subdivision. Her journey to self identification could use a little less ‘everybody wants me.‘ There is an over-abundance of lusting men and gals in search of a BFF. Nabers might be better to focus on the gritty reality of Annie assimilating back in to the daughter/sister role. The mother and twin brother have untapped potential for more meaningful interactions. (more info)
Aaron Carter uses an everyday man to preach hope to the downtrodden. The animated Gavin Lawrence (Franklin) plays the working-class prophet. The broad idea is an enlightened one. The actualization is more disjointed. Carter uses bible-speak to keep the characters from connecting to each other or the audience. The amicable Lawrence’s dialogue seems unrealistic. His interactions are coerced. At the beginning of the play, Franklin’s failed suicide is mentioned. This preliminary bombshell never gets the complete attention it deserves. Franklin’s true essences remain a mystery behind his religion and his fetishes. (more info)
I always enjoy going to First Look at Steppenwolf. It’s an opportunity to experience new talent supported by a well-established company. The program cover says “Writers Who Rock. Awesome New Plays. See Them First.” Exactly!
Photos by Emily Schwartz
behind the scenes
Edith Freni (playwright), Tim Hopper (director), William Boles (set design), Sally Dolembo (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Derek Matson (dramaturg), Vanessa Rundle (run crew chief), Emily Schwartz (photos)
Annie Bosh Is Missing
behind the scenes
Janine Nabers (playwright), Shade Murray (director), William Boles (set design), Joanna Melville (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Heidi Coleman (dramaturg), Vanessa Rundle (run crew chief), Emily Schwartz (photos)
The Gospel of Franklin
behind the scenes
Aaron Carter (playwright), Robert O’Hara (director), William Boles (set design), David Hyman (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Kevin O’Donnell (sound design), Erik Ramsey (dramaturg), Vanessa Rundle (run crew chief), Emily Schwartz (photos)
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