Monday June 26th 2017

A Parallelogram

by Alan Bresloff

A Parallelogram, Steppenwolf Theatre, ChicagoThere are many people who feel that have the power to see the future. In certain areas of the city, many neon signs grace storefront windows promising that “your future awaits you inside”. Pick up any of the Spanish newspapers and you will find pages of ads that offer a chance to see your destiny. In a new play written by Bruce Norris, now at The Steppenwolf Theatre, he explores the “belief” that this can be real.

Bee (played with great realism by Kate Arrington) is living with her recently divorced boyfriend, Jay (a powerful character played to perfection by Tom Irwin) when she discovers that she can talk with her other self, Bee, of the future (the incredible Marylouise Burke) and that she has powers to see into the future and perhaps even be able to alter it. While there is no doubt this is a comical look at their lives, there is also some deep meaning to the strength of a relationship and questions if one saying “I love you” really does or is it just what one is expected to say.

Skillfully directed by Anna D. Shapiro on an extraordinary set designed by Todd Rosenthal . This is a clever look at a topic that has caused many an argument over the years. Can people alter history? If one could see into the future, could one alter their way of life in order to change the outcome of the years to come? I, for one, do not believe that this can be accomplished, as I do not see anyone truly being able to see the future, but this is a play so we do not come in expecting reality- this is fantasy, but with an edge that may cause one to think about who they are and the way that they treat others. What starts out as a perfectly lovely Sunday morning, turns into a nightmare for Jay and Bee. The fourth player in this dynamic farcical look at life, is the Hispanic gardener, JJ (deftly handled by Tim Bickel). He has been hired to mow the lawn and when it is time to be paid, Jay has a problem handling this with any importance. Jay is blind to anything but what he needs and wants. His ex has the kids and Bee cannot add to his family. Bee, befriends JJ to make up for the way he was treated and in one of the future scenes, Bee turns out to be living with him and his mother (also played by the comical Ms Burke).

The touch of a remote allows us to go back and forth through Bee’s life and Bee 2 holds the control- she can be anybody at any time and control that sees or hears what she says. Can her warnings change her own destiny? Perhaps that is all she wants to do. When we first meet her, she is a chain smoking, Oreo eating old woman in what appears to be a nursing home, alone. Perhaps Norris is trying to get us to think a little more about the path we take now so that we will not end up old and alone in the future. This is not a ground-breaking masterpiece, but a marvelous piece of escapism. A chance to laugh and think- no holds barred! This is a circus type of play, with Bee 2 being our narrator as well as many characters with trips through past and future and a wild ending that will guarantee you laugh out loud. This is a four actor production, but I feel that we might want to say that Rosenthal’s set is, in fact, the fifth performer as we travel through time.

“A Parallelogram” will continue at The Steppenwolf Theatre located at 1650 N. Halsted Street through August 29th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m
Wednesday matinees August 11th,18th and 25th at 2 p.m.

Tickets range from $20-$70 and can be purchased by calling 312-335-1650, visiting the box office or online at
Special MaTEENee performance on Saturday July 17th at 3 p.m.-Tickets for students $15 which includes food and a post show discussion.
Half price tickets (subject to availability) each day of performance, one hour prior to curtain.

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