Recommended *** As soon as Wheeler (Ian Barford), the central character in Tracy Letts’ new play, “Linda Vista”, opens his mouth, you know he’s a jerk, and you know that someone that opinionated will never change. Although the dialogue is well-written and very funny, the outcome is inevitable. Even though you can see the train wreck coming, it’s an interesting trip. 3 ½ Spotlights
As the play opens, Wheeler’s best friend, Paul (Tim Hopper), is helping him move into an apartment in a complex called Linda Vista. Paul sees the move as a positive step, getting Wheeler out of his garage where he’d lived since his wife threw him out over a year ago.
Wheeler has definite opinions about everything – politics, music, musicians, life coaches, people who sing karaoke – and he’s not afraid to express them. He started out as a photographer at the Sun-Times, taking his own pictures on the side. As time went by, he noticed that other photographers were getting the better assignments. He had a show of his own pictures, which didn’t generate much interest or sales. He said he saw the handwriting on the wall, so when his wife wanted to move to California to be near her family, he agreed.
Wheeler now works as a camera repairman. He’s been thinking about hitting on Anita (Caroline Neff), a girl who works in the shop. His boss, Michael (Troy West), is a troll who still lives with his mother.
On his first night in the complex, he goes to a nearby bar for a beer where he meets Minnie (Kahyon Kim), a girl with attitude who is horrible to him. When she asks where he lives, he’s dumb enough to tell her.
Paul and his wife, Margaret (Sally Murphy), who are happily married, fix him up with her good friend, Jules (Cora Vander Broek), a life coach. Their date is in a karaoke bar. She sings, he doesn’t. They click and start dating. The very first night they have sex, Minnie barges into his apartment carrying a laundry basket full of stuff. She says she’s pregnant and her boyfriend hit her and she doesn’t have anywhere to go. Wheeler lets her stay.
Wheeler, Jules and Minnie all spend time together until he kisses Minnie. It’s like watching a soap opera – Wheeler dumps Jules for Minnie, Minnie dumps Wheeler for her abusive boyfriend, Jules won’t take Wheeler back, Michael the troll, hits on Anita, Wheeler objects and gets fired.
“Linda Vista” is recommended for adults only, as it includes nudity and adult language.
If you have the time, stop into Steppenwolf’s new Front Bar: Coffee and Drinks, just off the main lobby for coffee, cocktails and bites. www.front-bar.com.
“Linda Vista” runs through May 21st at Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, St., Chicago.
Running time is 2 hours, 50 minutes, with an intermission. Performances are:
Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30 pm
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 pm.
Tickets range from $20-$94. Paid parking is available in Steppenwolf’s garage at 1624 N. Halsted. Valet parking is also available. FYI (312) 335-1650 or www.steppenwolf.org.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Linda Vista”