Recently I got the chance to see a wonderful production at Steppenwolf. I always tell people if they want to experience good theatre with world class actors, see a play at Steppenwolf. In this case, the play was Conor McPherson’s “The Night Alive “
Tommy (so beautifully played by vet Francis Guinan} is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. He goes out of his way so much that he is rich in friends, but cash poor. He thrives on get rich schemes and he usually gets into them with the help of his friend, Doc.(Doc is played by Tim Hopper , a longtime favorite that I have seen in many productions.) Doc seems to be a little on the naive side. With his run of bad luck, he has had to take a a room in his uncle’s house. The uncle is played by M. Emmmet Walsh. Maurice is a little bit on the blustery side and very tired of having to bail out Tommy and his pal all the time. Tommy’s life seems to change when he helps a young woman who is attacked (Helen Sadler) .She is soon brought into all of their lives.
Irony plays a part in this drama as we mirror the relationship that Tommy has with Aimee compared to the one he has with his own estranged wife and daughter. Perhaps he is trying to make amends for this troubled relationship. And the final irony is that Tommy tries to take care of the people in his life when he can’t even take care of himself. But in the end he comes to a painful truth. This compels him to change his life.
One of the things that i marvel at when I see a play , movie , or tv show is how the cast works as a team. There was definitely a sort of working rhythm with this cast. This is what makes a play come to life. Each actor seemed to connect with each other. Each character represented a different facet of each of us. Tommy represented compassion, Doc represented naivete. Aimee represented love and her boyfriend represented reality staring everyone in the face. Maurice proved to be the one most changed and it was wisdom that changed him.
Great acting and thought provoking revelations is what awaits the audience . You can still catch the last days of the production at Steppenwolf The show also includes Dan Waller as Aimee’s boyfriend Kenneth. Following the performance , join in a thought provoking discussion of the play with audience members moderated with theatre personnel. For information call 312-335-1650 or steppenwolf.org