Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review of Steppenwolf for Young Adults' Monster

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Monster. It was by Walter Dean Myers, adapted by Aaron Carter. It was directed by Hallie Gordon. It is about a boy named Steve Harmon (Daniel Kyri) and he was on trial for murder, even though he didn't pull the trigger, because they think that his job had been to be the lookout for a robbery that turned into a murder. And he was making a storyboard (art by Finn Belknap) for a movie about his experiences during this trial. He said that he hadn't done anything, but he is still worried that people think he is a monster. It is about truth, family, and prejudice. I think this is a really great show. It was heartbreaking and felt really true.

I thought it was really interesting how they used comic book art as a storyboard for the entire play as it was happening. Steve would narrate the story and when a big plot point happened he would put it up on the wall in storyboard form. It shows that he likes to express his feelings and tell his story in a certain way: through art. When he is in the courtroom he seems more terrified and less willing to share his life experiences and be present. I don't blame him for that because of course I would rather express myself through art than in a courtroom. By the end you see him get more comfortable expressing himself in the courtroom and I think his art taught him that. I also really loved the style of the art. It seemed like a superhero comic like Steve's little brother liked. I thought that was sweet to have them hint that he was thinking about his brother when he was writing his movie. His film teacher (Chris Rickett) also came into the courtroom and he was asked if Steve was a truthful kid. And he said he thought he was because of his movies. I think that helped Steve seem like a good person to the judge and jury.

Steve's mom (Alana Arenas), dad (Kenn E. Head), brother (Tevion Devin Lanier), and Steve all seemed very close. They seemed to like spending time together until Steve got into trouble on winter break. It was so heartbreaking to see his mom get so sad and mad at the police officers when they were taking Steve away. The family tried to keep the bond that they had with Steve even when they couldn't touch him because there was no touching allowed in the place where they could visit him in jail. You could see the little brother really missed him--like how he would try and wave to his big brother from outside the prison because children weren't allowed. He would play superhero with Steve and that was so cute and made it even more awful when they took Steve away. There was a scene where Steve's dad was coming for a visit and he could not handle seeing his son in jail. At the end of the scene, he walked off crying. It made it more real, and it made me cry. I feel like you see moments in this play where the people in the story pour out all their feelings at once. That makes for very intriguing characters.

It was interesting how they cast each actor, except Steve, as more than one role. It was awesome to see the huge switch in their characters that they had. Every character was so different from the others. I found that very enjoyable. I thought it was interesting how the dad also played Bobo, a person who was involved with the robbery and he seemed to be trying to get everyone else in trouble so he wasn't the only one getting in trouble. The dad was so caring and sweet and just wanted to help his son get out. The actress who played the mom also played the prosecutor and she wasn't on Steve's side. I thought it was amazing how her whole physique gained so much more posture when she was the lawyer. It was cool to see her snap into two very different characters. The actor who played the little brother also played Osvaldo who was basically bullying Steve in their neighborhood. I thought it was interesting how the same actors who played the family also played people who were against their son and brother. There was also a very poised judge and a unreliable witness cousin, which were very very different characters as you may have guessed, and they were played by the same person (Ginneh Thomas). She was King's (Namir Smallwood) cousin and his alibi and her entire testimony seemed to be mostly about her lamp. Seeing the witness become the judge after the testimony was pretty funny. I think it was good to have some comedic moments in a play that is mainly very depressing.

I almost have some sympathy for King, even though he seems to have done more wrong that Steve, because he is also not being fairly tried. And Bobo seemed to have sold him out on stuff that might not even have been truthful. I think that makes a very complicated and interesting character when you don't know how you feel about them or their situation. Also Steve's lawyer (Cheryl Graeff) fits in the same category because you have mixed feelings about her. She is doing her job well but she seems sometimes to not want to be in the same room with her client. Whenever he wants to thank her for anything, she wants to get somewhere else.

People who would like this show are people who like cool storyboards, connected families, and lamp testimony. I think that people should definitely, definitely go see this show. I thought this was a really awesome show. It was very powerful and intriguing and I really liked it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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