Steep Theatre’s “The Cheats” Review – Hollywood Scene Rear Window

Oversized and moody, the neighbor settles into the living room chair

 

Some might not be able to get past the idea that realistically one would never invite such an apparently unhinged neighbor, Jonathan (played by Brad Akin) into your home as the long married Hollywood couple in “The Cheats” did – Anne (played by Kendra Thulin) and John (played by Peter Moore).   Oh dear!  Check the program notes and you read that playwright Hamish Linklater shares that this story was inspired by real life events!

 

The day starts off slowly with many reminders that the couple is long married

 

Let’s hope his real-world neighbor wasn’t oozing threat as much as Brad Akin did, whose size alone comes off as a neon blinking sign that says “WARNING”.  Beyond his stature Akin brings the persona of a man roiling within, who would arouse natural instincts among most of us to lock him out the door.  Let’s also hope that in the real version of this story Hamish was able to muster more boundaries than the couple in this story did, who keep their door unlocked literally and figuratively most of the time.  Or, is this the way things really happen in Hollywood where the story takes place?

 

It's Halloween and a reminder of how the long married couple first met at a costume party, and also a chance to steal candy from the children's trick or treat buckets. Photo: Gregg Gilman

 

If you stop worrying about how realistic the setup is or isn’t, “The Cheats” is darn good theater with an engaging story that lets these accomplished actors shine. 

 

John spends a lot of time looking out the window

 

Like Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” movie classic, this is a story of a man who looks out his window often.  Unlike Jimmy Stewart’s character,  “The Cheats” John doesn’t have a broken leg grounding him at home.  Rather, he goes to his terrace often to steal a cigarette, one of the many ways he and his wife “cheat”.  Like Stewart in “Rear Window”, John becomes hooked on a saga unfolding in a neighbor’s house that is in his view.

 

It turns out there are less than six degrees of separation between the two couples.  To detail more would be a spoiler.  There are many twists and turns in this plot and it’s a very good ride. 

 

More than a little late, the couple tries to assert some boundaries

 

Jonathan’s wife Suzie (played by Julia Siple) has a small part, but her final line in the play is a memorable gem of a zip that you rarely see in other works.  For some of us, that alone would be worth the price of admission.

 

Now through November 7.

 

Steep Theatre

1115 West Berwyn

Chicago, IL

 

For tickets or information call 866 811 4111 or visit the Steep Theatre website.

 

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Photos: Brandon Wardell, unless otherwise indicated

 

  

 

 

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