peteg's blog - noise - theatre - 2014 10 12 DeadAccounts

Den Theatre: Step Up Productions: Dead Accounts

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Yet another Goldstar outing at the Den: $15 + $4.50. 3pm on a Sunday afternoon looked good a while back, but after a lazy morning of hacking away at nothing in particular, and given an increasingly-rare sunny and not-too-windy day in Chicago, I wish I could have been outside. That's just to say I'm glad I went, but I wish I'd gone some other time.

This play by Theresa Rebeck attempts to explain the midwest (specifically Cincinatti, Ohio) to foreigners, specifically New Yorkers. The stayed-there locals, mother Barbara (Millie Hurley) and Lorna (Emily Tate), play on a pretty funny Catholic dynamic that is probably the strongest thread. Steve O’Connell's Jack returns as the prodigal son so coked up that he destabilises everyone else (actors and characters alike). Conveniently his last remaining mate in the town Phil (Bradford Lund) has waited a long time for another crack at Lorna, for otherwise this thing would be romance-free, and the scenes where ex-wife-of-sorts Jenny (Elizabeth Antonucci) and Jack get down to it would be straight out of Albee. Much of the humour trades on people talking past each other, and spiraling back to earlier conversational points, as family dialogue often goes.

Step Up had an elaborate set constructed on the Den's main stage. The "tasteless" kitchen featured plates on the walls, and it seems that the in-sink-erator I have grown familiar with is not a NYC thing, but it remains unclear to me just how much it is a mid-Western thing. Sydney has Corelle crockery; I used it for about fourteen years and almost all of it survived. The audience was tiny, which was unfortunate. I wondered if Elizabeth was trying for a squeaky NYC accent, or trying on a fake one to match her satirical hauteur, which was entirely entertaining. Emily was almost formulaically histrionic, an All-American put-upon girl, which I put down to her character lacking dynamism, probably by design. I left wondering why Jenny ran off like she did. The Chicago Reader reviewer had more doubts. Alex Huntsberger at New City Stage is more cutting about the source material.