Challenging and Thoughtful – Downstate at Steppenwolf Theatre (Through November 11, 2018)

A man and his wife are sitting on a couch in a group home for sex offenders. The man is confronting an elderly man in a wheelchair who sexually assaulted him when he was 12 years old. This is the very first scene. The audience doesn’t know how to react. Some of them are uncomfortable and silent while others laugh. This scene is followed by a much more low key scene in which the other residents of the home are introduced as people before their crimes are revealed.

Downstate 4

This is a challenging play to watch. It is for theatre audiences who are willing to examine difficult issues from all sides and not for the faint-hearted. It humanizes these characters, but it doesn’t go so far as to force sympathy for them. They have all done their time and are just trying to reintegrate into society.

This is not an easy play to do and the cast handles it with class. Glenn Davis (You Got Older, The Christians) is excellent as Gio, who was convicted of statutory rape and is appalled that he is grouped together with the pedophiles. K. Todd Freeman (Directed The Christians) is great as Dee, who tries to take care of everyone in the home. Francis Guinan (The Minutes, The Rembrandt, Hir) plays Fred, the elderly man being confronted in the first scene. There are shades of his character from Hir in that he doesn’t seem to understand what is happening around him. Tim Hopper (Linda Vista, Between Riverside) as Andy gets very upset that Fred doesn’t seem to show any regret. With this performance, Hopper adds to his record as a top of the line character actor. Eddie Torres plays Felix as the most troubled character in a haunting portrayal. Lastly, Cecilia Noble is solid as Ivy, the parole officer for the home just trying to do her job.

Cost of a ticket: $86

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It!

New Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Get tickets now for Downstate through November 11th.

Quinn

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