The Steep Theatre space feels like we’ve walked into an alleyway in the heart of a big city.
Dismal plywood surrounds the stage graffitied with neon spray paint and posters of shows long gone.
Overturned shopping carts sit diagonally from each other strewn with food litter, cardboard, and discarded pillows.
But an uplifting vibe comes from the strands of multi-colored fairy lights adorning the stage and upbeat pop/techno songs blasting from the speakers.
We’re in for an evening of juxtaposed messages just like the set suggests - some happy, some grim - during FIRST LOVE IS THE REVOLUTION.
Steep Theatre Builds a Relationship
Fifteen year-old Basti (short for Sebastian Cunningham), is having a tough time at home with his mom gone and his dad not being the most loving parent. Trying to catch a fox to make a fur stole for his mom, he happens to catch Rdeca, a young female fox just recently let out of the den to hunt on her own.
They discover they can communicate with each other and realize they have more in common than they would have originally thought. They explore each other’s worlds and a deeper connection starts to form. As they continue on their exploration, they begin to feel the stirrings of youthful rebellion and experience all the ups and downs that come with it.
Metaphors Strike a Chord
In the show program, the director asks the audience to take a leap of faith with the show and to imagine humans as animals and the metaphors this implies. FIRST LOVE is a tale about growing up and those first moments when you’re on the brink of adulthood. It is when our eyes are opened to the world around us, and when we leave the safety of the nest and venture out into the world and start making decisions on our own.
The show is chock full of deep and striking moments that remind us of our own coming of age and learning the world around you. As Basti and Rdeca venture into this new world together, they come to some very strong realizations about the world around them and how they’re not so different from each other.
It begs the question, aren’t we all just animals in the end?
Blurring the Lines
The show makes it clear the characters who are animals are very much supposed to be animals. Over the course of the show, there’s some eyebrow-raising coming from the audience as the relationship between Basti and Rdeca develops because of this.
The culmination of their relationship is a powerful moment, to be sure, as it incites the falling action of the show and leaves us questioning what happens next? But for this writer, this light bestiality was a bit too much and had me leaving the theatre cringing. For most of the show, we’re wondering if their relationship is going to turn sexual, which overshadows the more poignant messages in the show.
If you’re a person who likes shows that have messages and deeper meanings that make you leave the theatre thinking, FIRST LOVE IS THE REVOLUTION is a good pick for you. However, if you’re not into theatre blurring the lines between what’s love/what’s not, this one might be one to sit out.
Curtis Edward Jackson
Collin Quinn Rice
Devon de Mayo
Mieka van der Ploeg†
Rachel Flesher & Zack Payne
Now through May 25, 2019
Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8pm
Sunday matinees at 3pm on April 28, May 5, 12, and 19, 2019
-Audio Description: Saturday, May 18, 8pm
-Open Captioning: Sunday, May 19, 8pm
1115 Berwyn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
About the Author
Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.
Editor's Note: Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski