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  Wastwater at Steep Theatre


Steep Theatre
1115 West Berwyn Avenue Chicago

Countless stories have come to an end at the bottom of Wastwater, the deepest lake in England. Tony Award winning playwright Simon Stephens' Wastwater delves into three relationships, each sitting on the edge of a defining decision. Where will their stories end, and what are the consequences of the choices we all make?

Thru - Aug 27, 2016

Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 8:00pm
Sundays: 3:00pm

Price: $25-$35

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 866-811-4111

Running Time: 1hr, 40mins; no intermission

  Wastwater Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"...The care of children is a recurrent theme in the work of this teacher turned playwright, as is the desperation of the middle-aged and sexually unfulfilled, as is what you might call genteel evil. All of that is spread naked before you in this play, which is uncomfortable to watch in such close quarters, especially when performed at this level of intensity. I found it a deeply sad time in the theater, not out of sync with the moment, certainly, but also not offering anything in the way of catharsis. This sparked in me a lot of internal debate over the legitimacy of bringing up the stuff this play brings up, only to leave it all hanging. It is an observational play, I suppose, and Witt directs it as such, suspending judgment and homing in on the subtexts of its conversations, all barely concealed quests for elusive intimacy. The designer, Joe Schermoly, contributes an ambivalent setting that is itself full of despair."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Now, Witt has helmed yet another U.S. premiere of a Stephens play for Steep - his 2011 "Wastwater." It is a pitch-black triptych that imagines a series of encounters among people who have already walked on the very dark side of life, or are about to step into the abyss. In the process, they reveal their most shameful experiences and hidden desires - their need for love and punishment, closeness and exile, thrills and safety."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"...Though present in three tightly written but frustrating and ambiguous two-person scenes, the audience never really gets to know them. That is, of course, the point, sufficiently made clear by director Robin Witt and her finely tuned ensemble; Caroline Neff is particularly strong as a thuggish human trafficker. This is not for people who like their theater big and loud-this troubling play aims to do no more than expose fear in a handful of dust."
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Jack Helbig

Windy City Times - Recommended

"...As Stephens did with his Tony-winning Broadway success, he again explores relationships, loneliness, alienation and family, tempered by the technology's influence on our planet and our lives. Presented with tension and mystery, Steep's U.S. premiere of this exciting new play is worth a dip in its deep waters."
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David Mccann

Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The connections among these disparate characters are revealed quietly, for the most part; Stephens doesn't hold your hand and Witt doesn't underline anything too heavily. But the realization that Neff's character, in the third scene, could have an intimate connection with Riemer's from the first is all the more chilling, as Neff's Sian tosses off: "We're connected. All of us. Just when you think we can't possibly be, you realize that we are." Wastwater is no light summer entertainment, but it's worth the deep dive."
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Kris Vire

Chicago On the Aisle - Recommended

"...If the mirror held to up to our human lot by Simon Stephens' play "Wastwater" fairly reflects what's framed there, we're not a very pretty collection. We may have our favorable features, but for the most part the image that emerges in "Wastwater," about to wind up its run at Steep Theatre, is one of frailty, desperation and meanness."
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Lawrence B. Johnson

ChicagoCritic - Somewhat Recommended

"...The actors all do a fine job, and the ones in the first two scenes are believable and affecting. Witt's design team has put together an unsettling world filled with flickering shadows, thanks especially to Joe Schermoly's practical light fixtures. Most of the play is quiet, but engaging, since the actors verbally take us on long, twisted journeys. However, the ridiculousness of the third scene gives away that, despite the writer and director's claims that merely raising an unpleasant subject is some kind of social service, Wastwater is really just a series of campfire stories. There's nothing wrong with offering that, but commenting that child abuse and loneliness exist isn't the same thing as exploring them, and as well done as the first two scenes are, no larger point clearly comes across. As a series of static character studies go, Wastwater is well done until it departs from reality."
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Jacob Davis

Around The Town Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...I will say that the middle story, about the love affair between Lisa (Kendra Thulin) a cop ,and Nick (Nick Horst) an art teacher, both married to others is indeed a vibrant and comedic scene filled with sexual stories, moves and innuendos that makes this play worth the price of the ticket. The entire show is 105 minutes (no intermission) and this was close to 45 of them . The opening story is about young Harry (deftly handled by Joel Boyd). He is leaving his home to go to Canada. He has been residing in a “foster” home in England and due to a misfortune where his best friend has died, and his feeling responsible, is leaving. His Landlady/surrogate parent, Frieda (well -played by Melissa Riemer) would prefer he not leave, but is understanding of his desire.
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Alan Bresloff

Chicago Theatre Review - Recommended

"...The play's latter two acts, though, are remarkable, even extraordinary at times. The second act, which concerns a fledgling affair between an art teacher (a vulnerable Nick Horst) and a police officer (a heartbreaking Kendra Thulin), is Stephens at his best, drama that captures the sad, disconnected, technologically embedded characters that populate our urban landscapes in the 21st century. And things only improve further with the play's final act, which finds a former math instructor (Peter Moore) meeting with a representative from an underground adoption agency. The setup is, admittedly, a bit hard-boiled, but the act features the incendiary Caroline Neff in the role of the representative, and as is usual in a production featuring the remarkably talented Neff, her acting alone warrants a visit to Steep's show. With an accent as thick as the London fog, thick heeled boots that create echoes through the small venue, and hand gestures of startling violence, the diminutive Neff creates an enormously threatening presence, one that believably has Moore - who is at least a foot taller - cowering in fear. It's remarkable theater, and only furthers Neff's already considerable talents."
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Peter Thomas Ricci

The Fourth Walsh - Recommended

"...WASTWATER is what Steep does best. It’s a dark, disturbing examination of humanity. In Wastwater, the Steep-Witt team gently beckons us into lives unfolding on stage. Once we’re fully present, they stop coddling us. They force us to experience the brutal consequences of life choices. They make us helplessly witness how bad someone can be."
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Katy Walsh

Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...The cast of Wastwater is uniformly excellent and Robin Witt’s directorial experience is clear in the sharp pacing and characterizations. Joe Schermoly’s hangar-like scenic design works for the airport-area exterior, swank hotel room and a nondescript warehouse. Lighting is by Brandon Wardell and costumes by Emily McConnell."
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Nancy Bishop

  Wastwater 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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