OFFBEAT: Steep Theatre's 'Motortown' now extended until Nov. 23

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-11-02T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Steep Theatre's 'Motortown' now extended until Nov. 23By Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

A fragile mental state is a scary situation to face and confront.

It's unpredictability that adds to this fear factor.

Steep Theatre Company's 13th Season in Chicago is launching with the North American Premiere of "Motortown" by Olivier Award-winning playwright Simon Stephens. The production, directed by Steep Artistic Associate and two-time Jeff nominated director Robin Witt, has just been extended and is now playing until Nov. 23, 2013 at the stage space at 1115 W. Berwyn Ave. in Chicago.

I'm reminded that this Stephens-Witt playwright-director team has proven a Steep successful formula after after previous productions like "Harper Regan" and "Pornography."

"Motortown" is the first Stephens production in Chicago since he received the 2013 Olivier Award for Best New Play for "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night." The production is also Witt's first Steep offering since her 2012 hit production of Dennis Kelly's "Love and Money."

"Motortown" premiered at London's Royal Court Theatre in 2006 and has since been produced throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. Stephens has said he wrote the piece in a span of four days in July of 2005, while reminding it was a turbulent four days that included not only the announcement of London's winning bid for the Summer Olympics, but also the July 7 London bombings that killed 52 people.

"Motortown" tells the intense story of Danny, played with stark, raw, unhinged emotion by actor Joel Reitsma, a young soldier who has returned to the United Kingdom to reconcile unfinished family and life matters.

A young teenage girl, played powerfully with tortured anguish by talented Ashleigh LaThrop, is one of the people who has the unfortunate experience of crossing paths with this lost soul, laced with a streak of violence.

There are some storyline moments that seem to spin, without much development, during the 90-minute no intermission production. But by the end, the cast has done what it sets out to do: leave an uneasy audience thinking about what what has just unfolded before their eyes.

"Motortown" contains violence and explicit language, and is recommended for mature audiences.

Tickets are $20-$22. FYI: (866) 811-4111 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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