Fake Review – Steppenwolf’s 2009-10 Season Looks at Belief

Alan Wilder, Kate Arrington and Francis Guinan examine the skull (1914)

The world premiere of Fake opens the 2009-10 Steppenwolf Theatre season. Written and directed by ensemble member Eric Simonson.  Originally.  Fake was
commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club wanting a play about science.  Happily, elements of Fake fit perfectly with Steppenwolf’s theme for this season, belief.  Ensemble members Kate Arrington, Francis Guinan and Alan Wilder with Coburn Goss and Larry Yando are featured in multiple roles.

Kate Arrington and Francis Guinan (1914)

Swinging back and forth through time, Fake investigates how “Piltdown Man” rattled assumptions about evolution, faith and science—and how we are transformed by our quest for the truth. The story of “Piltdown Man” is an amazing moment in science history.  He occupied the belief of scientists as reflected in professional articles and books, in newspaper reports and biology textbooks parts of which were committed to memory for forty years.  From 1912 when the skull and jaw of the “Piltdown Man” were found in a gravel pit in England, until 1953 when "Piltdown Man" was exposed as a fraud, "Piltdown Man" had a firm place in the study of human evolution. New methods of chemical dating made it possible for scientists to determine the true nature of "Piltdown Man".  Then the question arose, “Who done it?” and why?

Francis Guinan and Coburn Goss (1914)

Fake explores two time periods both looking for answers about "Piltdown Man".  Beginning in 1914 (just before the First World War) we meet, Rebecca Eastman, a journalist from the United States reporting on' Piltdown Man", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author, Arthur Woodward, professional paleontologist, Pierre Telhard de Chardin, a Priest and philosopher, and Charles Dawson, the amateur who found the big brained Piltdown Man and various artifacts associated with him.  "Piltdown Man" is to being explored by the scientific community.

The alternate scenes take place in 1953, after the Second World War when scientific techniques have progressed to the point that the "Piltdown Man" fraud can be substantiated beyond any doubt.

Coburn Goss, Kate Arrington, Alan Wilder and Larry Yando (1914)

In Fake, belief is explored as it relates to science, religion, and personal relationships.

The sets were convincing, the costuming in keeping with the time periods and the acting was superb.  Scenes between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Pierre Telhard de Chardin were especially powerful.  The range of ideas presented and all the accents in which they were presented, left one with lots to consider departing from the theatre - especially “who done it?”

Kate Arrington and Francis Guian (1953)

Ensemble member Eric Simonson recently completed a documentary on the late Studs Terkel for HBO.  Simonson received a Tony® nomination for his direction of Steppenwolf's The Song of Jacob Zulu with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and directed an Oscar®-nominated documentary about the acclaimed South African singing group.  Simonson received an Oscar® for Best Documentary Short for his film A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin in 2006.

Kate Arrington and Coburn Goss (1953)

The design team for Fake includes: Todd Rosenthal (sets), Karin Kopischke (costumes), Joe Appelt (lights) and Barry Funderburg (sound and composition).  Rebecca Ann Rugg is the Dramaturg and Cecilie O’Reilly is the Dialect Coach. Michelle Medvin is the Stage Manager and Kathleen Petroziello is the Assistant Stage Manager.

Fake was developed as part of Steppenwolf’s New Plays Initiative.  

Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m
(Sunday evening performances through October 18 only)
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday matinees on October 21, 28 and Nov. 4 at 2:00 p.m.
Note: there is no 7:30 p.m. performance on Tuesday, Sept. 15; there is no 3:00 p.m. performance on Sunday, Sept. 20.

Ticket prices:    Previews: $20-$48    Regular Run: $20-$70
Twenty $20 tickets are available at Audience Services beginning at 11:00 a.m. on the day of each performance (1:00 p.m. for Sunday performances).  Half-price rush tickets are available one hour before each show.  Student discounts available.

Audience Services:  1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650
Online ticketing available at www.steppenwolf.org

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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