Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Lucas Hnath’s THE CHRISTIANS is stunningly conceived and highly stylized. In a literal sense, Walt Spangler’s magnificent set captures the enormity of the megachurch in which the play is set—down to the opulent purple carpet—and enhanced by Scott Zielinski’s lighting design and Joseph A. Burke’s visually stimulating projections. But Hnath’s keen and effective playwriting is in itself also inherently theatrical—and sublimely delivered by the production’s ensemble. As the entirety of THE CHRISTIANS takes place inside this megachurch, the line deliveries are quite literally performative. The actors deliver the majority of their lines using hand-held microphones, which emphasizes that this play focuses on more formal, outward expression. The audience’s perspective is also filtered through the lens of the church’s Pastor Paul (Tom Irwin), who controls the play’s narrative.
Month: December 2016
Erika Sheffer’s witty and laugh-out-loud funny new play THE FUNDAMENTALS paints a bleak portrait of corporate culture within the New York location of a fictitious major hotel chain. Sheffer sets the tongue-in-cheek tone from the initial moments of the play, which opens with an overly polished film emphasizing the staff’s important role in optimizing the guest experience. This hilarious, dry wit also extends to the natural and biting dialogue.