Monday, September 17, 2007

Have You Seen Steve Steven?

photo: Jim Baldassare

This latest offering from the collective known as 13P (the P stands for Playwrights) is broadly satirical and darkly creepy at the same time. We're somewhere in the Midwest on the blandly-decorated first floor of a suburban house, as the two-parent, one-daughter household entertains visitors: first another family who are "close friends" that no one remembers very well, and then mysterious, unsettlingly oddball strangers who seem to already know them. The tension in this smart, genuinely original play comes mostly from the vast gap between the broadly-played adults, who speak in maddening inanities, and the much more naturalistically-portrayed teens, who talk and behave common-sensically. The contrast gives the play an almost surreal edge. By the middle of the seventy-minute one-act, it's become so severe that the play feels like a jack-in-a-box, where even the adults bursting happily through a door could make you jump in your seat. That said, I felt a bit let down by the final thrusts of the play, which neatly further the theme but which are less than viscerally satisfying after all that terrific suspense. Nonetheless, this is a sharp production of a striking and memorable new play and if you're into quality off-beat, look no further.

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