Directed by Robin Witt
At Steep Theatre, Chicago
Individual and duet speeches dilutes the power of Kelly’s cautionary morality tale
Steep Theatre and director Robin Witt teamed up for the hit show Pornography last summer that also contained many monologues and speeches directly to the audience. This style seems to be in fashion in London these days. In the hands of skilled, articulate actors with deft British accents, this style can hold audience’s attention for as the long speeches are colorful, revealing and truthful. The writing must be interesting and be able to move the story a long.
I must say that playwright Dennis Kelly over works the speeches that come across as as personal confessionals or sketches or interwoven scenarios that have a thin strand with one couple – David (Peter Moore) and Jess (Julia Siple) – debt-laden misery of a married couple as their spending and lavish lifestyle threaten their peace.
We witness David in a long monologue via a text messaging to his French girlfriend wherein he admits that his wife’s suicide allowed him to buy an Audi automobile. David also confesses to not helping his wife when he discovers that she is still alive after attempting suicide.
There are other confessional speeches including a duet by two bereaved parents who graphically admit to the desecration of the neighboring memorial where their daughter is buried because it’s become too showy, overshadowing their daughter’s grave. There is a conversation by a sex-obsessed man and a woman who attempts to poison her bosses coffee machine. There is also a monologue by Jess about the origins of the universe.
All these speeches substitute for action and character development that never fully engaged me since the monotony of the speeches together with the disjointed lack of story focus never resonated enough for me to care. Kelly’s cautionary tale of debt, obsession with money and purchasing things could have been presented with more action and a stronger sense of story. I’d like to know more about David and Jess.
Despite the above problems, the Steep show has enough spark due to the outstanding acting by Peter Moore, Julia Siple, and Jason Michael Linder and Molly Reynolds. This cast exudes all the angst of debt and the falseness of the pursuit of money. One could wish that playwright Kelly had given them more dramatic situations and less speeches to present his cautionary tale. The actors do save the day – Steep’s ensemble usually does.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 19, 2012
At Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn, Chicago, IL, tickets $2- – $22, Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through February 25, 2012