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  Birdland Reviews

Steep Theatre
Thru - Jun 15, 2018

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Steep Theatre

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Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...Playwright Simon Stephens' "Birdland," the fabulous new show at Steep Theatre, is, above all else, a very serious and totally gripping attempt to find the answer to a simple but fascinating question: Can those who are handed bucket loads of cash, fame and nightly adulation actually retain their basic humanity?"
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Chris Jones

NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...“Birdland” is a cold work set in a colder world. It seems like a nearly unbearable thing to write and somehow an even tougher thing to bring to life. All the more reason to credit this ensemble and its unflagging brilliance, as well as Jonathan Berry in what, by my estimation, is his best directorial work to date, a fusion of his innate talent for managing the demands of large casts and his increasingly impressive scene work. “Birdland” is one of Steep’s most memorable works in recent memory, no small feat for a company that is far from risk-averse. It begs to be seen for its uncompromising vision of humiliation, degradation and manipulation as being part and parcel of the male emotional weapon kit."
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Kevin Greene

Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended

"...Simon Stephens’ seemingly cautionary drama, partially inspired by “Birdland,” a song by Patti Smith about a boy and his dad, is both powerful and repugnant. The drama is a Faustian tale of fame and fortune, acquired in exchange for the leading character’s humanity. As in plays like “Pal Joey,” where the protagonist is such a distasteful, disgusting antihero that no one would want to be associated with him, Paul serves as a man whose identity has become lost in the public glare. Without offering any forgiveness, Stephens view of the unrelenting pressures and demands that come with stardom is played out by Jonathan Berry’s talented cast in a play that’s fascinating, but difficult to like."
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Colin Douglas

Third Coast Review- Recommended

"...Birdland, written by Simon Stephens and directed by Jonathan Berry, is a fast-moving, personal look inside the rock music business. Steep Theatre’s new production, the U.S. premiere, shows the trappings and atmosphere of the business and the life of its leading character, who is on stage for the entire two-hour-plus performance. Reitsma plays Paul with guts and panache, but he’s not someone you will fancy having a beer with."
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Nancy Bishop

Picture This Post- Somewhat Recommended

"...Written by playwright Simon Stephens, Birdland, directed at Steep Theatre by ensemble member Jonathan Berry, is a searing examination of privilege and fame. Centering around Paul (Joel Reitsma), a rockstar at the height of success, the play poses existential questions about the nature of success, fortune, and how the undying adoration of thousands of fans can radically alter the course of someone's life. Like the drug user that seeks out harder and harder drugs to get the same high, Paul's desperate search for meaning in a world of excess sends him careening towards the play's bleak conclusion."
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Brent Ervin-Eickhoff