Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Airline Highway, Steppenwolf Theatre

Went to see this play people have been that's so ravin' about before the holiday. I kept meaning to write about it. Now my memory is a little fuzzier, which, in some ways, makes for a better critique.

The play looked great. Everyone LOOKED right. The setting was disgusting and perfect. I was transported. The only technical error spotted was from Bisque's eye. He said, "I don't think they would have had name brand chips." It is a good point. At a party of homeless strippers and duggos, maybe they'd go for the Jewel-brand tortilla chips instead of the Tostitos. Just a hunch.

How did I feel? This is the primary question. I felt, complacent. Mostly. I never felt a real strong pulling thing. I was in the balcony, but that hasn't stopped the power of theatre before. Did I care about these people? Um. Here's the true thing. I felt the people I met were in unpleasant lives and while it wasn't their fault, they were not extremely proactive to change. For some, I don't think they minded. For some, I think they very very much did. Perhaps that is the point of the play--a sort of conservative view of the lower class. "They could change, but they won't. They're weak."

"People don't change." A sentiment repeated and proven, I think, by the text. Perhaps the happiest of the folk was that old man on his bicycle. Tragically stuck in a hippy mind with an ol' lil body pedaling to the radio. Or was it tragic? Was it just fine because when all was said and done he was happy? He had the last big speech of the show. A poem. I thought it strange since he was such a minor character and none of his words held much strength to me, but upon writing this...

I found the play very deliberate. The symbol of Bait Boy's pink shirt coming off, his tattoos exposed, his speech morphing. The iPad of the yuppy kid, when she dropped it, the storytelling and the talking about the storytelling. I don't think deliberate is bad by any means. I'd rather deliberate than cloudy.

There is a huge emphasis on the choices you make at 16 do matter. I believe this. Sometimes I couldn't tell if we weren't supposed to believe this, or if that's a mantra of losers. "If only..." The carrying of baggage that can be can be can be dropped. But people that ever tell you, "This doesn't matter," don't know what it is like to be alive and get things you want. In reality everything matters. Instead, say, "This matters, but what you do next matters more."

Overall, I think I enjoyed this play just fine. It is going to Broadway, and there is zero chance I would recommend anyone see if for how much that ticket will cost. At the Step with a student discount, a good little Thursday night. Without? Hm. I don't think you need it. I will say that theatre is lasting. These ideas are stronger with colors and words and fake people on stage representing them. I don't believe I was changed from this production. I don't believe I learned very much, but I did think in a deep way, and that is what it is all about.

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