Review "Harper Regan" at Steep Theatre: Thulin Rulin' for Extended Run!

Steep Theatre Co. presentsSTEEP

Harper Regan 

1115 W. Berwyn Avenue

Written by Simon Stephens

Directed by Robin Witt

Thru April 25th

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Running away from home is an impulsive act reserved for kids. Or is it? At 41, Harper gets on a plane and leaves her life. Steep Theatre Co. presents Harper Regan. Playwright Simon Stephens has penned a poignant journey of enlightenment for a woman stuck in her life. A personal tragedy awakens Harper from the catatonic state she has been living in for two years. She abruptly departs the monotony. Through a series of one on one conversations, Harper begins to reconnect with her existence. From the opening submissive exchange with her boss to the closing confession to her husband, Harper Regan travels a great distance in three days. Simon Stephens creates a moving tale of a vulnerable woman in search of the truth. Harper Regan is an adult fantasy about running away to home.

Leading the British speaking cast, Kendra Thulin (Harper Regan) is bloody brilliant! Under the direction of Robin Witt, Thulin transforms on stage from mousy employee to polite wife to reckless woman to angry daughter to peaceful resolve. The conversion process is so authentic that Thulin seems to display genuine "I can't believe I just did that" surprise. Another standout in the solid cast is Caroline Neff (Sarah Regan) as Thulin's daughter. Even in a scene that she has no lines, Neff's presence is just splendid! Despite headphones and wacky teenage garb, Neff's character has an almost maternal relationship with each of her parents. In a dramatic play steeped in themes of connecting with people, Julia Siple (Justine Ross) is amusing as a counselor challenged with boundary issues.

One of my favorite elements of Harper Regan is Witt's choice of ending a scene. Thulin always exits first. After her interaction, Harper Regan leaves the person. It's an interesting way to show progression in her personal development. I also loved the transitional music, an energetic loud blast of sound. What I struggled with was the staging. With seats on three sides, the deep stage hosted a lot of action in the front. Sitting on the side, I found myself staring at the back of heads. 

This is my third Steep Theatre Co.venture all within the last year.  I continue to be impressed by the commitment of this obscure theatre company to provide profound life themes as entertainment.    

A Steep Theatre Co. virgin, Rick describes the show with "journey, darkness, truth."

WAITING FOR THE SHOW

Pre-show, two blocks from the theatre and Red Line, we dined at La Fonda, 5350 N. Broadway. On our own journey to enlightenment, we ordered the Plato Montanero.  It's  everything you're looking for in a Mexican  meal:  steak, fried pork, red beans, rice, sweet plantains, avocado plus a fried egg.  Seeking to only be truthful, I'd say the fried pork was dry leather tasting.  And although the fried egg was picture perfect, it had a day old taste and a funny non-running yolk quality.  The steak and red beans were tasty.  Rick's margarita was shaken and poured tableside.  We were impressed until we read in the restroom that margaritas were the $5 featured special and we were overcharged. Bugger!

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