Review “The Wild” (Steppenwolf Garage Rep): Marveling

Steppenwolf Theatre presents the Fifth Annual Garage Rep.  Three theatre companies have been selected by Steppenwolf to perform in rotating repertory for ten weeks:

*Walkabout Theatre, “The Wild”

*The New Colony, “reWILDing Genius”

*Prologue Theatre, “Saturday Night/Sunday Morning”

THE WILD is synchronized chaos.  The press release describes this world premiere as ‘what happens to people when institutions crumble and deities fail to show up.‘  Upon arrival, a man is on display.  His pose is a gentler crucifixion. Selected members of the audience place fake candles at his feet.  Beside these glowing offerings, people are invited to brush chalk dust on him.  This altar is in the front of the stage.  Behind it, creatures prance and strut across the stage.  They are oversized oddities.  If Dr. Seuss ever wrote a book about erotica, these high-heeled critters would be in it.  The show hasn’t even started and I’m already scratching my head.

I don’t know what the hell is going on but I’m impressed by the wacky pageantry during the preface.  (Costume Design by Paul Scudder and ensemble with Delia Baseman serving as costume advisor.)  The show starts with automated announcements and the ensemble shed their non-human identities. From the lyrical prose, I determine the story is about Dionysus, the god of wine, ritual madness and ecstasy.

THE WILD is wild.  The ensemble are the creators of this deranged arrangement.  Even though it’s not always apparent to the audience what the muddle is, the cast showcases a precision in their execution.  The weird sequences of activity are well-rehearsed.  The choreography by Al Evangelista and ensemble is a combination of tribal and risque.  There are impressive levels of athleticism and trust.  Men jump into women’s arms.  Performers dangle from silks. Both men and women climb up each other’s bodies and dive into the remaining ensemble without hesitation. It’s marveling.

THE WILD is this abstract, moving, talking art.  It’s funky.  I didn’t love it.  I didn’t hate it.  I experienced it.  And I’m still pondering it.

Running Time:  Sixty minutes with no intermission

At Steppenwolf Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted

Directed by Thom Pasculli

Dramaturgy by Kendra Miller

Created with Nigel Brown, McCambridge Dowd-Whipple, Al Evangelista, Cooper Forsman, Katie Mazzini, Dana Murphy, and Paul Scudder

At 8pm on March 13th, 16th, 19th, 22nd, 28th and April 3rd, 6th, 9th, 12th, 18th

At 4pm on March 23rd, 29th and April 13th, 19th

Buy Tickets at www.steppenwolf.org

Photo by Joel Moorman

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