Saturday February 24th 2018

“You Got Older”

Steppenwolf Theatre Company is known throughout the world as a world-class company. I have watched the talented actors of this company go on to great things, and yet, still come back to their roots- Steppenwolf! Their current production, a Chicago premiere is “You Got Older” written by Clare Barron and sharply directed by Jonathan Berry. FYI- In the program it says that the show is without an intermission, but since it is over two hours long, they have changed that to a total of two hours fifteen minutes including the intermission. For my part, this could easily be a 90 minute play with no intermission, and in fact, might be even more effective.

The story is about Mae ( Carolyn Neff is a bundle of energy and talent) who is in Seattle to be with her dad , who has cancer. Mae’s life is sort of at odds ends anyway, having broken up wither boyfriend, lost her job and is going through some medical problems of her own. Dad ( the always reliable Francis Guinan) has been through many treatments and procedures and another one is scheduled. Coming home, to live in your father’s basement, in a room that was your sister’s is not easy, but having to do so with no job, no significant other and very little prospects is even harder.

Mae does sneak out and goes to a bar where she meets Mac (deftly handled by Glenn Davis), a kind of nerdy character from her sister’s past, but who seems to have a strange magnetism to Mae, and in an odd set of circumstances, she feels the same about him. They discuss her eerie rash and how he can make it feel better and there are some odd feelings expressed between the two. Perhaps, a bit more than we needed to know or see. This couple has a scene in the second act which makes little sense and in my opinion adds very little to what Mae and her father are going through.

While the play is well acted, and there are some important segments, overall I found it far too long and some scenes became tedious. Part of Mae’s life is a recurring dream about a cowboy (Gabriel Ruiz is masterful in this role) who ties her up and has his way with her, willingly  on her part. This had to be part of the “free-spirit” segment of Barron’s personal life. She wrote this play at a time in her life when she had lost her boyfriend, her job , and her father had been told that he had stage four cancer. So why not write about what you are living?

We are all aware that the big C/cancer is still taking lives of loved ones on a regular basis and that each of us deal with it in different ways. Choices must be made by all concerned ,and children must , in some cases, take control of their parents’ lives. Yes, the child becomes the parent. This production, while much longer than needed, had some sparkling moments and some that were not understandable to me. There is a scene, prior to leaving for the hospital, when Dad  plays his “theme song” for Mae. Nice music, but almost 5 minutes that did nothing special in adding to the story.

The hospital scene was long and involved, introducing other characters: Hannah ( a delicious character brought to life by Audrey Francis), Jenny (the delightful Emjoy Gavina) and Matthew ( David Lind). The scene was a long one with some very funny bits of action, but certainly could have been shortened in order to keep the flow of the story simpler and easier to follow. I will not give away the ending, but will tell you that there is a musical dance number that will confuse many of you as it did those around me.

We know that Mae is having problems and that she is a lost soul -searching for her life, but we all get older and mature, so we all need to face the present and plan for the future. Her relationship with her Dada goes through some changes that will, in the end, make more sense and make her life more meaningful.

The set (Maghan Raham) is designed to be many things with very little change, but one needs to use their imagination. Fences becoming walls is difficult to fathom. Gardens in a bedroom are also hard to understand. Alison Siple’s costumes were for the most part normal clothing of today. The lighting (Marcus Doshi) and the music/sound( Matt Chapman) worked at mood setting and the projections (Rasean Davonte Johnson) gave us the rain and snow that one might expect in Seattle. Of late, I have noticed in many a modern play, a new credit; Intimacy choreography ( Sasha Smith for this production) which is a new category. Will the Jeff Awards people begin to honor this category?

By the way, there is a discussion after the performance available. We did not stay, but I am anxious to hear from one who did and will advise.

“You Got Older” will continue at Steppenwolf Theatre located at 1650 N. Halsted Street through March 11th with performances as follows:

 

Thu, Feb 8: 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 9: 7:30pm
Sat, Feb 10: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sun, Feb 11: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Tue, Feb 13: 7:30pm
Wed, Feb 14: 7:30pm
Thu, Feb 15: 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 16: 7:30pm
Sat, Feb 17: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sun, Feb 18: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Tue, Feb 20: 7:30pm
Wed, Feb 21: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Feb 22: 7:30pm
Fri, Feb 23: 7:30pm
Sat, Feb 24: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sun, Feb 25: 3:00pm
Tue, Feb 27: 7:30pm
Wed, Feb 28: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Mar 1: 7:30pm
Fri, Mar 2: 7:30pm
Sat, Mar 3: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sun, Mar 4: 3:00pm
Tue, Mar 6: 7:30pm
Wed, Mar 7: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Mar 8: 7:30pm
Fri, Mar 9: 7:30pm
Sat, Mar 10: 3:00pm & 7:30pm
Sun, Mar 11: 3:00pm

 

Stage: Downstairs Theatre

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

www.steppenwolf.org

Parking is available at their garage (just south of the theater) for $12 or $14

valet parking (cash only $14) at the door and area street parking, some metered, some by permit

parking hotline 312-335-1774

To see what others are saying, visit http://www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “You Got Older”

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