Chicago Theatre Review
Steep’s ‘Hinter’ a terrific exploration of the dark fantastic
Hinter – Steep Theatre
Steep Theatre has distinguished itself in recent years for its uncommonly provocative and thought-provoking world premieres, and that tradition continues with the company’s latest, “Hinter.”
Penned by the remarkably named Calamity West, “Hinter” is a terrific exploration of the dark fantastic, and a reminder of how profound (and frightening) such concepts as witches, magic, and ghosts truly are when they are taken seriously.
Set in a rural district of Germany in the aftermath of the first World War, the play opens in stark fashion. The prominent Gruber family, who own land and livestock, are found murdered in their barn. The peculiarities abound: the bodies are stacked one on top of another; there were rumors of abuse and incest; local townsfolk worry that the inspector, who has traveled from Munich, will unfairly judge the town for its superstitions and relative modesty; and then there are the rumors that the Gruber house (and wider countryside) are haunted – voices whisper over the horizon, doors that open on their own, and the discreet presence of dark spirits can be felt.
What’s remarkable about the show is how West, director Brad DeFabo Akin, Steep’s talented cast (especially Eunice Woods, Sigrid Sutter, and Alex Gilmor), and an excellent technical team (Thomas Dixon’s sound design deserves a shout out) balance all these elements, creating a play that is equal parts German fairy tale, historical fiction, and murder mystery; indeed, it’s Poe meets Bradbury meets the Brothers Grimm, and it’s a bloody good time.
Reviewed by Peter Thomas Ricci
Presented through March 3 by Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn, Chicago.
Tickets are available by calling the box office at 866-811-4111 or by going to www.steeptheatre.com.