Since I’ve come here, I have had the fortune of seeing many television stars on stage. Nathan Lane at Goodman, David Schwimmer at Lookingglass and Laurie Metcalf at Steppenwolf.
Tonight I got that thrill again at Steppenwolf. John Mahoney, Martin Crane of Frazier played a small but, pivotal role in Pinter’s “The Birthday Party” now playing at Steppenwolf.
Pinter can be described as a confusing playwright, at least he confuses his audiences. Critics first hated his work, but the actors love it. It allows them to be uninhabited. This was the perfect vehicle for this ensemble. Mahoney’s Petey provides the normalcy for this production. Talented character actress Moria Harris charmed the audience as the naive Meg. Petey and Meg have invited Stanley to be part of their world. Ian Barford brilliantly brings life to the mad character. Stanley is the most complex character in the play he teeters between insanity and reality. He has chosen to take a holiday at the seaside resort. Everything is fine until Petey announces the arrival of two visitors. Steppenwolf vet Francis Guinan plays the charming Goldberg and McCann is played the versatile Marc Grapey. Grapey has had a very busy year since I’d seen him on stage at Goodman in Race and The Iceman Cometh. Grapey’s character seems to be more of a predator than Goldberg. The fight scenes choreographed by Matt Hawkins adds to the drama of the play.
Austin Pendleton (A fellow Ohioan) does an excellent job of directing with this caliber of a cast, it’s a joy to watch. If you’d like to join “the party” find more info and purchase tickets at http://www.steppenwolf.org/Plays-Events/productions/index.aspx?id=564 or by calling 312-335-1650.