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Ire and brimstone
Chris Jones, theater critic
A good Chicago winter puts you in mind of hell. Find the right God-forsaken street and sub-zero wind chill and you feel like the Devil himself has come up behind you and put his fingers around your throat. Sure, you could run to Florida. Or you can stare the Devil in the face at the Steppenwolf Theatre.
I¹m speaking of Conor McPherson's Devil, the one who shows up late one Christmas Eve and starts playing poker in an Irish living room. McPherson's ³The Seafarer² isn't some campy melodrama. On the contrary, it¹s a darkly funny play with deathly serious themes that define hell not as the usual fire-and-brimstone grotto, but as the ultimate embodiment of loneliness and self-loathing. When I saw the play on Broadway last winter, I thought it was far and away the best work to date of a man I consider Ireland¹s leading contemporary playwright. It is a stunning piece. And I can't wait for the Steppenwolf ensemble to get its teeth around this one. Francis Guinan. Tom Irwin. Alan Wilder. And John Mahoney. Bring on the torment.
Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago, 312-335-1650. steppenwolf.org
November 16, 2008