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  Hir at Steppenwolf Theatre


Steppenwolf Theatre
1650 N. Halsted Chicago

The classic dysfunctional family drama has just crashed through into a wholly original place. Meet Paige, a wife and mother liberated from an oppressive and abusive marriage; Max, her newly out transgender son; and Isaac, Max's PTSD-addled older brother, who discovers a brand new war zone when he comes home from Afghanistan. Hir's crusade to shake up the patriarchy is disarmingly funny, absurd and surprising as it looks at an American family forced to build a new world out of the pieces of the old.

Thru - Aug 20, 2017

Price: $20-$86

Stage: Downstairs Theatre

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 312-335-1650

Running Time: 2hrs

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  Hir Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...This exceptionally canny and fascinating piece of writing is an attempt to write the obituary for the cultural relevance of the macho likes of Sam Shepard's "Buried Child," in a theatrical culture that now largely rejects that genre's heteronormative, gender-binary assumptions and its sticky, amoral love of personal agony. At the same time, it makes a brazen attempt to ride those fast-atrophying coattails to reach the elusive broader audience still caught in a naturalistic thrall, even as it now flows through "Twin Peaks.""
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Somewhat Recommended

"...Think of Mac's play, now receiving one of those take-no-prisoners, anything goes Steppenwolf productions, as the vision of Darwinian evolution (or de-volution) as it has now manifested in that species popularly known as "the dysfunctional American family" of the early 21st century. Then, turn up the volume to fever pitch as you witness how one particular California family has become engaged in a whole new mode of existence - one reflecting the era of transgender transformations; a rage-inducing realignment of traditional male and female roles; the phenomenon of endless warfare and post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by returning soldiers; and the post-recession distrust of both home ownership and debt-laden university degrees as cornerstones of the American dream."
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Hedy Weiss

Daily Herald - Recommended

"...Following on the heels of Antoinette Nwandu's racially charged drama "Pass Over," "Hir" shows once again that Steppenwolf is undaunted in tackling challenging works. The play does its part to prod audiences to question a politically polarized issue, while both laughing and cringing at the deliberate family dysfunction."
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Scott C. Morgan

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Francis Guinan gives a great performance as Arnold, not so much because of his onstage abandon as because he parlays the appearance of abandon into unexpected subtlety. Amy Morton is blithely, bracingly cruel as Paige. Ty Olwin's Isaac and Em Grosland's Max are moving as the default adults in the room. Collette Pollard's set is powerful, finally, for the secrets it gives up."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...The cast assembled by Steppenwolf director Hallie Gordon for this Chicago premiere are adept at giving the appearance of isolation, but Mac is generous enough to distinguish these victims of social and economical change from other unhappy families-the Voynitskis, the Tyrones or the Westons. Listen closely and you will hear the briefest of references to a surrounding community-neighbors who "don't say hi, but wave," homeless vets at the bus station and an online group of "gay anarchists"-offering the possibility of assistance. Who knows? You could be one of those nearby residents gingerly overcoming the fear of crippling despair seeping over the back fence into your yard."
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Mary Shen Barnidge

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The gleeful radicalism, on the other hand, is pure Mac, though as in his Walk Across America for Mother Earth, the writer has admonitions for all sides. Morton is an off-kilter thriller, reveling in the new confusion and wielding the language of wokeness like a weapon, but all four cast members go to unexpected and juicy places in Hallie Gordon's carefully unkempt production. Capping a Steppenwolf season that's felt like the beginnings of a reinvention, it calls for Paige's exultant new catch phrase: "Paradigm shiiiiiift!""
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Kris Vire

Theatre By Numbers - Recommended

"...Any audience that leaves a production of "Hir" ought to be exhausted and spent. It shouldn't be possible for them to bounce up into a standing ovation and then laugh their way out the door. It's still worth seeing. It's still a good play. Yet, so much potential..."
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Christopher Kidder-Mostrom

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Taylor Mac's tumultuous, off-the-wall play "Hir," currently on stage in a bristling production at Steppenwolf, is about battles, foreign and domestic. And if the shape-changing military one in the Middle East has been going on for a long time, the societal one at the center of "Hir" is just building a good head of steam."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

Stage and Cinema - Somewhat Recommended

"...As often with Steppenwolf, there's a whole lot of shaking going on. This family "hirstory" is a virtual feeding frenzy of 2017 counter-culture contradictions, whether it dumps on dad or merrily mocks mom. Either way, alas, it sheds much more heat than light. Mac's brave new world smacks of ugly dejà vu. But Hallie Gordon knows how to make good pandemonium: Her quartet is dementedly dedicated to their dead-end caricatures. And, yes, there are laughs behind the shocks."
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Lawrence Bommer

Splash Magazine - Somewhat Recommended

"...Because of the overall sense of uncertainty, the actors, aside from Francis Guinan and a heartfelt monologue from Ty Olwin at the end of Act One, are not exposing the painful vulnerabilities that are needed to take this production to a whole other level. This detached hesitancy might well be appropriate choices for some of the characters given their struggles to overcome trauma, an understandable choice for sure. However, it also prevents us from seeing their pain. The sense of conflict gets thrown out with the trash, depleting the play's sense of urgency and lowering the enormous stakes down to a humdrum level."
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Justin LeClaire

Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The technical aspects of this production are amazing. Jenny Mannis (costumes), Ann G. Wrightson (lighting), Richard Woodbury (original music and sound) and Matt Hawkins (fight choreography). The propmaster, Lacie Hexom did an extraordinary job. There were so many items and they had to be messy on top of it. Discussion at intermission was if the set would be turned around to reveal an exact duplicate so there would be a messy set along with a neat version. I say, no- the crew did one heck of a job during the intermission, for sure."
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...A company dealing terminally in realism, director Hallie Gordon somehow can’t parse the surrealism of the play’s world. Despite the emotional realities of the characters (which are played to full effect with the exception of Morton’s Paige, who chronically mugs for laughs), they do not inhabit a world beyond Steppenwolf’s signature family drama, which is a plundering and benign replica of the one-hundred year old formula that belies all realism."
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Jay Van Ort

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...While this isn't your everyday, feel-good play, it's an unusual, often hilarious black comedy about a dysfunctional family and a society in transition. Peopled with strange, wildly bugged-out characters roaming through unorthodox fragments of a story, this is a play brimming with the unexpected. The dialogue is sharp, realistic and graphically adult. It rapidly fires at the audience as if shot from a gatling gun. Characters often talk over the top of each other, but Hallie Gordon's smart direction aims the focus where it's needed. One thing is guaranteed: this production may provoke lots of post-show conversation and arguments, but it's bound to stay with audiences long after the final curtain."
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Colin Douglas

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...Steppenwolf is justifiably famous for its ensemble performances and Hir is yet another example. All four performers are superb; Morton and Guinan are Steppenwolf regulars; Olwin is an experienced Chicago actor and Grosland makes his Chicago debut in Hir."
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Nancy Bishop

The Hawk Chicago - Recommended

"...The play is an experiment in discomfort, and the cast's dedication to their roles allows you to forget that you are watching a play at all. While I did not have the pleasure of seeing Amy Morton, understudy Jennifer Engstrom absolutely immersed herself in the role of the endlessly supportive but perhaps wholly misguided Paige, making her seem both slightly crazed and sympathetic at the same time. Grosland's Max balanced Paige out with an earnest and understated performance, at times acting extremely confident and, in other moments, exposing Max's insecurity and vulnerability as ze goes through hir transition."
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Emily Schmidt

Picture This Post - Recommended

"...Taylor Mac's superb wit, intelligence, and cultural insight informs every line of HIR. It's a minority viewpoint that more than deserves an ear. Kudos to Steppenwolf for joining the MCA in bringing this viewpoint to Chicago stages."
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Amy Munice

  Hir Photo Gallery

   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 Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.

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