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  Martyr at Steep Theatre


Steep Theatre
1115 West Berwyn Avenue Chicago

Mayenburg's Martyr is an oft-harrowing, oft-comical depiction of a young man's journey towards religious radicalism. The play premiered at the Schaubühne in Berlin in 2012 and has received subsequent productions in Russia and France, but in a time when the United States is coping with religious fanaticism both at home and abroad, Steep's American premiere promises to carry particular resonance.

Thru - May 23, 2015

Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 8:00pm

Price: $10-$35

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 866-811-4111

  Martyr Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Perhaps German playwright Marius von Mayenburg’s 2012 drama would feel plausible if played to absurdist excess. But director Joanie Schultz opts for something closer to social realism, creating two markedly unconvincing hours. It's no help that as Benjamin, Brando Crawford delivers nearly every line at the same insistent pitch, until his character devolves into an unvarying harangue."
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Justin Hayford

Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...And Martyr presents its religious arguments in a way that suggests our minds are supposed to be blown by them, which is enough to make one wonder if something has truly been lost in translation here. Maybe in Germany these kinds of verse-versus-verse debates are revelatory. But to my own experience, as someone who grew up religious and has become less so in adulthood, this sounds like dorm-room discourse; von Mayenburg’s flattening borders on offensive to believers and atheists alike."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...Chelsea M. Warren's chalk-rich schoolroom design becomes a powerfully ironic playpen for three educators in power, led by headmaster Willy Batzler (Walter Brody in a genial caricature of the ossified school principal). Batzler is a bureaucrat with a politician's nose who never met a cliche he didn't like, an issue that couldn't be subjected to compromise, or an underling he wouldn't sell out in a heartbeat. Mayenburg's agenda may be overly drawn here, although Chicagoans may infer a contemporary resemblance to the odd local politician."
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Nancy Malitz

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...Benjamin Südel (Brando Crawford) is the boy in question. He regards his mother, Inge (Cindy Marker) as an adulterer for having sexual relationships after getting divorced. At school, he insists on swimming fully clothed, because the display of other students' flesh is sinful. His swimming teacher, Markus Dorflinger (Steve Schine) regards this as a bratty phase, while the biology teacher and Dorflinger's girlfriend, Erika Roth (Kendra Thulin) is deeply disturbed. The ignorant, reactionary headmaster (Walter Brody) decides on a compromise, with all students being required to swim from now on in full-body suits, but Benjamin's crusade is only just beginning."
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Jacob Davis

Chicago Stage Standard - Recommended

"...“Everyone here means well,” defends Benny’s headmaster before accusations of obsession, ignorance and violence begin to fly. It may be the most tragic line of the play as it is rooted in the deeply misguided efforts of everyone involved, adults and children alike. While Martyr works as a timely fictional companion to the tragic stories of US teens joining ISIS, it is really a play about what speaks most effectively to young people. Shocking, grossly engaging and full of profound insight, this production takes real risks. Not all of them pay off but the act itself is edifying. Martyr posits that the real first step to understanding conflict on a global scale is listening, accepting and mediating conflict at home."

Kevin Greene

The Fourth Walsh - Recommended

"...The program and lobby feature interviews with Mayenburg. He discusses how in Germany religion and government lines are blurred. Religion is taught in schools. Crosses appear in courthouses. In MARTYR, Mayenburg shows "that you can take the bible and make it the source of an extremist ideology that deeply contradicts our democratic values." Even though he is talking about Germany, this concept is timely to the United States especially in the wake of the ridiculous Indiana Religious Freedom Act. Mayenburg's play is not only relatable, it's terrifying!"
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Katy Walsh

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