Chicago Theatre Review
Steep’s ‘Love and Money’ confronts the big ideas honestly
By Devlyn Camp
“I am a photosynthesist of cash,” states the boss in somewhat of a metaphor, comparing her work to the scientific process that creates energy for plants. Her employee, whose story is told in seven reverse-ordered vignettes, struggles to survive a marriage that aches for a piece of that cash flow. From exposing the twisted demise of his wife in the opening scene, the play takes steps backward in time to reveal the relationship’s deconstruction.
Each scene creates the setting and story based in delightfully awkward British humor. Much like Jennifer Egan’s novel A Visit From the Goon Squad, each character, from the boss to the husband to the wife’s babbling parents (played by quick and funny Jason Michael Linder and Molly Reynolds), shows a piece of the story from their perspective and admits their financial struggles. Those issues subtextually, and sometimes straightforwardly, disclose the problems circulating through their love lives. Scenes play out in Director Robin Witt’s clever blocking, and occasionally lack thereof, which is also smart. Many monologues – and even dialogues – are played standing stationary and out to the audience, leaving a viewer to focus on the wit and point of the words. Playwright Dennis Kelly’s words flesh out morals on top of morals: fixing one’s mistakes, dealing with karma, ethical methods of earning money, et cetera.
While many of the scenes start off funny and almost cute, they all progress to serious matters that anyone who’s ever paid a bill can relate to. The script and actors are genuine and entertaining, obviously understanding the kind of job where little money is made from a lot of passion. While the theme stands on a Sondheim-esque “life sucks” sort of policy, there are honest moments when one can truly believe money can’t hurt them anymore.
The play is obviously about love and money, but moreover, their byproducts. When discussed in a final, absolutely astonishing and candid monologue performed by Julia Siple, everything in life comes down to a person’s choice of valuing flesh and blood or finance. Depending on your own criticism and perspective, Steep allows you to make the choice.
LOVE AND MONEY
Steep Theatre Co.
Through February 25th
Tickets $20-22, available at steeptheatre.com
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