Steppenwolf Theatre’s “POTUS” Or, Behind Every Successful Regional Theater is an Artistic Team Trying to Keep It Alive

“I hope audiences are reminded how awesome it feels to laugh with strangers.” – Director Audrey Francis on POTUS

POTUS is for lovers of Scandal or West Wing. Except the president is unsexy, unintuitive, and puppeteered by seven women on the verge of a panic attack. As the days get darker and colder than our politics, if you’re looking to laugh out loud, run to see Steppenwolf’s POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive by Selina Fillinger.

In POTUS, time moves how I’d imagine it does in the White House; fires burning everywhere, everyone busting their asses to put the fires out as quickly and quietly as possible. But after a while of watching the White House staff running around, the audience is able to see the treadmill under their feet; they are going fast, but they’re also going nowhere. Regina Garcia’s set design renders this concept literal. The “women in charge of the man in charge” are tasked with traversing over a rotating, circular floor in the middle of the stage. They’re running in place– in heels– trying their best to do their job well. In this world, a job well-executed means being invisible as one of the marionettists running the country via the president. Continue reading “Steppenwolf Theatre’s “POTUS” Or, Behind Every Successful Regional Theater is an Artistic Team Trying to Keep It Alive”

Steppenwolf Theatre’s ‘Sanctuary City’ Asks – Who Among Us Has a Right to Safety?

What is a sanctuary? Is it geographically bound? Or made in connection between people? Is it familiar or foreign? Does it require travel or follow you where you go? And does everyone get to have sanctuary? Is it a right? A rite of passage?

Sanctuary City explores the bounds of what sanctuary means to two New Jersey teens in the early aughts. From 2001-2007, we follow G and B through major life events– college applications, prom, familial separations, and their escape from abuse. Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Martyna Majok asserts her talent through snappy dialogue and a collision of intersecting identities. She paints both a painfully specific and yet broad picture of American immigration. Continue reading “Steppenwolf Theatre’s ‘Sanctuary City’ Asks – Who Among Us Has a Right to Safety?”

Jump In, Feet First:  Cycles and Growth in Writers Theatre’s Eurydice

Eurydice and Orpheus begin with bare feet. They are at the beach, about to jump in. They are lovers and you can feel it– they kiss and tussle and banter. Then, Orpheus gets down on one knee and they jump in, feet first. 

Eurydice is a play about life cycles. The lovers are separated by Eurydice’s sudden death on their wedding day. A stark beginning with a starker end. She reunites with her father in the underworld with no memory of who he is. She must relearn everything she once knew. A rebirth. And the cycle begins again.

When Eurydice enters the underworld, by way of an elevator that’s raining from the inside, she enters in shoes. It’s striking because even at her wedding she was barefoot. Her feet are covered and her memories are gone. And I wonder, is there something about touching your bare feet to the world (or… underworld) that connects you to yourself?  Continue reading “Jump In, Feet First:  Cycles and Growth in Writers Theatre’s Eurydice”

Steep Theatre’s ‘The Writer’ is a Surprising Escapist Meta Adventure

I entered The Edge Theater already wary. I was going into The Writer knowing nothing of the play except what the title tells me. That it’s about, well, a writer. A playwright.

Plays about plays tend to be didactic and masturbatory. Artists are so close to the subject that it renders the play incapable of complex analysis. As it turns out, masturbatory didacticism is intentionally the driving force of The Writer, and playwright Ella Hickson weaponizes these themes in such a way that complicates it further than other plays of the genre.

The Writer is about escapism. Continue reading “Steep Theatre’s ‘The Writer’ is a Surprising Escapist Meta Adventure”

A Love Letter to the Rain Scene in Paula Vogel’s Indecent

“It’s the 20th century! We are all attracted to both sexes.” – Madje Asch, Indecent

Indecent begins with a set of instructions: In this play, actors play multiple roles. In this play, we sing and dance. In this play, we speak Yiddish. Sometimes, German. Sometimes, English. In this play, we are Jewish. We create, celebrate. Sometimes we fight. Some of us survive.

In this play there are lesbians who dance in the rain.  Continue reading “A Love Letter to the Rain Scene in Paula Vogel’s Indecent”

‘Motherhouse’ at Rivendell Explores the Complicated Faces of Grief

“My mother hates her body / We share the same outline / She swears that she loves mine” – Lucy Dacus

Annie’s mother is dead. She enlists her four aunts– her mother’s sisters– to help write the eulogy. None of the women know what to contribute. Motherhouse reveals the complications that come with grieving a close and complicated relative.

Over a kitchen table surrounded by updated, stainless steel appliances, the women greet each other with a cacophony of “you’ve gotten so thin!”s. The dissonance of the beautiful, upper-middle-class kitchen and the complete animosity the women have towards food and their own bodies thrusts the audience into the world of the play. This is a family where appearances are prioritized, and trauma is swept under the rug. Continue reading “‘Motherhouse’ at Rivendell Explores the Complicated Faces of Grief”