Wednesday, May 24, 2006

SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #4 – A Blameless Life (Steppenwolf Garage, Chicago, IL)


SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #4 – A Blameless Life (Steppenwolf Garage, Chicago, IL)

Every year, I manage to catch at least one very small show that thoroughly astonishes me with an emotionally-packed wallop. This past year was no different. I was very pleasantly surprised that it came so early in the season through a little play called A Blameless Life. This play was presented as part of Steppenwolf’s annual "First Look Repertory of New Work" presented each summer on the smallest of its three stages.

Expertly helmed by Anna D. Shapiro -- director of one of my favorite plays from the 2002-03 season: Bruce Norris’ breathtaking Purple Heart on Steppenwolf’s primary stage -- A Blameless Life simply blew me away. It started out simply enough with a rather jaded and sarcastic married couple sitting on a bench outside a shopping mall commenting on life’s typical and mundane unpleasantries. But shortly into their banter, the couple, played by the excellent Joe Van Slyke and Annabel Armour, receive some tragically shocking, life-changing news.

Watching Van Slyke’s character spiral downward was haunting and painful, yet it also provided a introspective window into the soul of a grieving father in complete despair, blaming himself for what had befallen his family. Ultimately, it's his family that helped lurch him back from the brink with a loving message that fate often deals the cruelest blows, with or without our hand.

A Blameless Life was a truly touching story delivered by a solid, superb cast. Thus, this ranks as my SOB #4 Best of the 2005-06 Theatrical Season. I only hope that this someday receives the wider audience it deserves. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am a proud member of Steppenwolf’s Auxiliary Council Board of Governors -- largely because of outstanding theatrical productions like this.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #1 - Theater Of The New Ear (Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA) (May 30, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #2 – Guys And Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre, London, UK) (May 26, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #3 – Hedda Gabler (Brooklyn Academy of Music – Harvey Theatre, New York, NY) (May 25, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #5 – Reeling (The Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis, MN) (May 23, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #6 – “MASTER HAROLD”…And The Boys (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 21, 2006)
SOB’s Best of 2005-06: #7 – Love Song (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 19, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #8 - Billy Elliot The Musical (Victoria Palace Theatre, London, UK) (May 18, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #9 - The Well-Appointed Room (Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago, IL) (May 17, 2006)
SOB's Best of 2005-06: #10 - Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (Eugene O'Neill Theatre, New York, NY) (May 15, 2006)
The SOB Five "Worst" of 2005-06 (May 12, 2006)
SOB's Best and Worst of 2005-06 Theatre Season (May 12, 2006)

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