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  Play Details

The Wheel

Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

On a 19th century Spanish farm, Beatriz is happily preparing for her sister's wedding when the house is overrun by soldiers. In the chaos, she becomes the unintentional guardian of a young girl. Her determination to reunite the child with her father sweeps Beatriz along on a journey across war zones and through time. But what began as a simple act of kindness takes on a strange twist when the girl acquires curious powers. The Wheel is a spellbinding story of what happens to hope and human nature in times of war.

Thru - Nov 10, 2013



Price: $20-$82

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 1hr, 50mins; no intermission

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  The Wheel Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"..."The Wheel," which has a cast of 17 and features notable work from Kareem Bandealy, La Shawn Banks, Tim Hopper, Yasen Peyankov, Ora Jones and, especially Mark L. Montgomery, is one of those plays wherein you suspect that the writer made it as difficult as possible to stage, just because she could. Aside from a pulsing opening played with the fabulous and much younger Chaon Cross, who plays her sister, Allen (who has an ageless quality) has to play almost all of her scenes alongside two kids, Emma Gordon and Daniel Pass, and one baby, played by a doll. You know what they say about working with children, and this pair are playing characters that the script requires to remain almost entirely mute. Imagine making scenes in those given circumstances. Very few movie stars of Allen's wattage would be tempted by that."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Not Recommended

"...In "The Wheel," actress Joan Allen has an even more unenviable task. Rather than a wagon, she must haul British writer Zinnie Harris' leaden riff on "Mother Courage" across the Steppenwolf Theatre stage. Returning for the first time in 22 years to the theater that helped forge her career, Allen gives the assignment her all. But the role of Beatriz - a spinster farm woman in 19th century Spain who ends up trudging her way through more than a century of wars on many continents, reluctantly caring for two young children and a baby in the process - is a losing battle for everyone."
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Hedy Weiss


NewCity Chicago - Recommended

"...Never dull under Tina Landauís direction, the pleasure in this work lies in the layers and layers of references, allusions and metaphors that shape the journey, many drawing from Western history, from religion and mythology. At times the proceedings resemble a Greek tragedy with really foul language. Brecht fans will find resonances. Other times Felliniís ď8 1/2″ comes to mind."
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Brian Hieggelke


Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Landau's production is visually and technically quite accomplished. Scenic designer Blythe R.D. Quinlan makes the stage a sort of industrialized war zone extended from the Downstairs Theatre's own architecture, full of forests of flying vertical pipes and fortresses of plastic milk crates that are artfully exploded, the environment devolving further and further into chaos as the play progresses. Members of the talented 17-actor ensemble cast tramp up and down the aisles and into the box seats to provide Kevin O'Donnell's live musical score (who knew Ora Jones was a flautist?). It's easy to see, with all these impressively moving parts, why Steppenwolf had to cancel the first public preview performance because the tech wasn't yet up to snuff."
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Kris Vire


Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...But thereís nothing uncertain about Tina Landauís sweeping staging, where scaffolding and rolling props keep the action exciting even if the destination eludes us. Allenís dogged and driven Beatriz holds together the vast cast with its time-traveling costumes and robust cameos. Ora Jones is wickedly realistic as a madame trying to escape, Robert Breuler reassuring as the village philosopher, and Yasen Peyankov winsome as a train conductor without a train. Thereís intensity galore but the energy seems wasted: This story is much smaller than its settings."
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Lawrence Bommer


ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...The Wheel is a technical and theatrical achievement. But, since we donít empathize enough with Beatriz or the children it plays out as a tedious one hour and fifth minute journey. With too much going on and too many symbols rearing up toward us, we become numbed to the frantic action. It suffers from Ďover-killí on many levels. I sure admire the performances by Joan Allen and the children but the show simply tries to cover too much for us to digest. The sheer spectacle may be enough for some but i believe that the lessons of too much is too much indeed does apply here.† Still the technical staging is† somewhat intoxicating."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Now - Somewhat Recommended

"...Harris' story is a tangled web of convolution that I continue to pull apart. I actually enjoy that style of storytelling. What didn't quite work for me was some of the dialogue was stilted throwing off the rhythm of the play. In addition, Harris made some odd choices even for this strange play. At one point, Mark L. Montgomery (Rossignol) asks Allen if he can kiss her. It was weirdly out of place. Allen delivers some rants that just seem more forced pontification than spontaneous lamenting.
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...I must preface this particular review of Steppenwolf's, "The Wheel" by Zinnie Harris by saying this is NOT for everyone and that the story has some very loose connections. While the direction is splendid and the acting superb, it is the entire production on which I must base my review, so let me tell you at first- it is 1 hour and 50 minutes with NO intermission. That is a very long time to sit in a very dark theater viewing a very dark story, which caused many an audience member to squirm in their seat and others to look at their watches from time to time. Those who no longer wear watches, using their cell phones as timepieces, despite being told to "turn them off" were flicking them to see just how much time had elapsed and how much longer their kidney had to wait- this is , as I said above, NOT for everyone."
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Alan Bresloff


Chicago Theatre Review - Somewhat Recommended

"...Intriguing, baffling, exciting and sometimes humorous, this production, with its indictment of war and the effects it has on people of every age, class, time and place needs more work to make the rambling script focused and playable. While this production is worth a look, it may leave audiences more confused than enlightened."

Colin Douglas


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.
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