Steep Theatre Company, one of the finest little storefront theater’s in Chicago, is presenting the U.S. Premiere of Simon Stephens’ “Wastwater” on its intimate stage. Wastwater is the deepest lake in England and as legend has it, many stories of many individuals have come to an end at the bottom of this lake. This play, sharply directed by Robin Witt, has three stories that are interlaced with one another. If you do not pay close attention, you may miss the link, but as it turns out, each story can survive on its own. The stories are indeed about choices that we make ,and how a decision can change the course of one’s life.
The open set (Joe Schermoly has designed a multi use set that is both simple and effective) allows us to see and hear the sights and sounds of the small English city adjacent to an airport, a swank hotel room across from the airport, and a secluded warehouse, also near an airport. The fact that they are by the airport, however, is not the defining part that bring the three stories together. The other technical parts of the show, such as lighting (Brandon Wardell) and sound ( Thomas Dixon) truly make us look to see just how close the last plane was as it soared over our heads. They were that realistic!
Robert Eric Shoemaker’s props were right on, and the costumes (Emily McConnell) well done. Of special note was the fight Choreography (Christina Gorman) and in this case, the fighting was not all just fighting, but not wanting to spoil the effects of the middle scene, I will leave this note as the middle scene was probably the one that I felt the best about, as far as story-telling and keeping the audience at an intense level. The actors were superb in the entire production, but I felt that they were better than the script, which is why my rating is not what I am used to giving a play at Steep.
I will say that the middle story, about the love affair between Lisa (Kendra Thulin) a cop ,and Nick (Nick Horst) an art teacher, both married to others is indeed a vibrant and comedic scene filled with sexual stories, moves and innuendos that makes this play worth the price of the ticket. The entire show is 105 minutes (no intermission) and this was close to 45 of them . The opening story is about young Harry (deftly handled by Joel Boyd). He is leaving his home to go to Canada. He has been residing in a “foster” home in England and due to a misfortune where his best friend has died, and his feeling responsible, is leaving. His Landlady/surrogate parent, Frieda (well -played by Melissa Riemer) would prefer he not leave, but is understanding of his desire.
The third and final story is about Jonathan (Peter Moore) who is a teacher with a past that touches the life of Nick, who is meeting with Sian (a powerful portrayal by the highly energetic Caroline Neff) to purchase or adopt a young girl. There is a bit of confusion in this powerful scene with lots of drama and physicality. I thought, at first that Jonathan was in trouble as it looked as Sian may have been police or government trying to stop an illegal child sale. But then it looked as if it might be an adoption and then when the money part played into it, and the little girl Bernadette Santos Schwegel) was brought in, filled with fear by a henchman, Alain (C, Richard Costes) and recalling a story in the second scene told by Nick, changed my mind about just what Jonathan was expecting from this transaction.
You be the judge! Is the darkness of these characters and the stories gratuitous? Is it provocative? Do the intertwining stories make sense in that what they are caused changes in the lives of the others involved? “Wastwater” will continue at Steep Theatre located at 1115 West Berwyn Street thru August 13th with performances as follows:
Fridays 8 p.m.
Saturdays 8 p.m.
Sundays 3 p.m.
July 30th show will include a touch-tour prior to the show and have audio description.
Tickets are $25 open seating and $35 reserved and can be purchased by calling 866-811-4111 or online at www.steeptheatre.com
$10 access Tickets ( day of show subject to availability)
Street parking is available and the meters are free after 6 p.m. Easy access by Red Line ( Berwn stop) or Broadway Bus.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Wastwater”