Friday August 18th 2017

“Pornography”

Somewhat recommended It is London, July 1st through the 7th in 2005. This was a time of jubilation as the Londoners had just witnessed a major concert during this period and were anticipating the announcement of the award of the 2012 Olympic games to their country. Many were against these games, fearing that the disruption to their everyday lives , not to mention the economic problems that would come as  paying the price for the award, might put them in jeopardy. Others were elated. Simon Stephens’  play, “Pornography” now having its Midwest Premiere at Steep Theatre is a 95 minute detailing of some Londoner’s lives during this time. Many of you will recall that  on July 7th, bombs were triggered off in the underground system ( three to be exact) and a 4th on a bus as the train was derailed. The plan of these four was to have all four bombs go off at exactly the same time in protest of of their disgust with their country.

Directed by Robin Witt with some brilliant acting, I found this story to be incomplete in the telling of the story. While Stephens  has written some very detailed monologues and two very powerful “love stories” and we learn a great deal about the temperament of the people over what is taking place, I didn’t feel that he truly got to the Islamic influence; the UK getting involved in the Iraqi war, which was the real reason for the four men to plan their protest, which left me a bit uneasy. It appears from the script that the Olympics is the key to their plot and in reality it was only a piece.

If you have never been to Steep, it is a very intimate little venue, seating about 50-55 people, depending on how they do the physical set-up. For this production, designer Chelsea Warren and director Witt, have placed the audience on three sides of the stage, which is in fact the floor with risers. From the ceiling, television screens allow us to see some marvelous videos ( Mike Tutaj) as we count down from story to story until the devastation takes place. The stories, in some cases do intertwine as we hear the unhappiness in most of the lives of the people we watch. Their is the wife ( Kendra Thulin) who is our first monologue as she details her involvement  with her family and her work. Every so often we are asked the question “Are you laughing or are you crying” ( which I found, was never really answered). We meet a young man ( deftly handled by Rudy Galvin) who tells us of his lust for his teacher, a brother and sister ( Walter Briggs and Caroline Neff) who are somewhat lost souls and have a relationship that is tabu; we meet one of the plotters ( a powerful monologue by  John Taflan) as he describes the plan and how it will be pulled off; we meet a teacher (Peter Moore) and his former student ( Michael Salinas) and learn of the feelings that these two men have for and towards each ther and we meet an older woman ( brilliantly played by Maggie Cain) who has outlived those around her and then we meet a kindly woman ( Blake McKay) .

This is a strong cast of players that do their best to make the story a worthwhile experience. If the script were a little more connected, this in fact could be a play that many would talk about. For “theater people” and “history buffs”, this is a worthwhile 95 minutes, but I am not sure this is one for the masses. “Pornography” will continue through September 3rd with performances on Thursday,Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. Steep Theatre is located at 1115 West Berwyn and very easy to get to- the Red Line stops at Berwyn and the theater is just steps away. The 36 is another alternative and this is one of the areas where the meters are free after 6 p.m. so parking is pretty easy.

Tickets range from $20-$22 and are available by calling 866-811-4111 or online at www.steeptheatre.com

 

 

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