REVIEWSREVIEWS BYTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

South of Settling


A New PlaySouth of settling at steppenwolf theatre

By Emily Schwend

Directed by Adam Goldstein

At Steppenwolf  Theatre as part of  Next Up

Subtle lessons about acceptance of life’s setbacks plays truthful

The tension builds quite subtly as we see the life routine of the Deckhouses’ that finds Kate’s teaching schedule and Irwin’s retail store manager’s schedule offering the only difference  in their lives.

South of Settling.

The arrival of Amy and Randall tests not only the Deckhouses’ hospitality but brings back old memories as it tests the power and control that family secrets can yield once confronted. We see the long held bitterness Kate feels about Amy leaving her twenty years ago. We learn that Randall, fifteen years younger than Amy, is a nice guy despite him being an unfocused drifter. The secrets this couple keeps from one another threatens their marriage.

South of Settling.

A subplot about Paulie (Joey deBettencourt), a student of Kate’s and an employee of Irwin’s adds another dimension to playwright Schwend’s  underlying theme about how much of our dreams and desires are shaped by others for better or worse. Accepting what we can’t change or fix then deciding to move on with life is a challenge for Kate, Amy and Randall. The need  for stability versus the quest to live life freely is presented in a most truthful manner.

South of Settling.

Janet Ulrich Brooks and Nicole Wiesner have a dynamic that works while Jeff Trainor and Keith Kupferer have a “nice guy'” persona that works. Joey deBettencourt is empathetic as the teen content with suffering bullying as he plods through high school.

This show, steeped in realism, is an honest attempt to dramatize the inter angst many folks feel about life as they allow others to shape their lives.  The acting and direction are filled with subtle moments of truth that amount to a powerful life statement. This is a quiet gem. Sarah JHP Watkins set skillfully suggests a middle class house.


Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: June 10, 2012

For more info checkout the South of Settling page on

One thought on “South of Settling

  • Having read this I believed it was really enlightening.

    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put
    this information together. I once again find myself spending
    a lot of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

Leave a Reply