Kill the Old Torture Their Young

by David Harrower
Steep Theatre, Chicago

set by Dan Stratton
costumes by Melissa Torchia
lights by Sarah Hughey
sound by Florian Staab
violence by Joey deBettancourt

photos by Dan Stratton

"The audience entered Steep Theatre’s intimate black-box space to discover, on an alley stage between two facing groups of seating, a sparse collection of tables and chairs set on dull, distressed, gray platforms amid bare metal frames. The only noticeable color in Dan Stratton’s set design came from the walls behind the rows of seats, where four vertical panels of pale blue sky suggested a glimpse of a cityscape between the buildings. The configuration—isolated playing spaces between two groups of spectators—reminded me of the Théâtre du Soleil’s Les Éphémères (reviewed in the March 2009 issue of Theatre Journal), but whereas that production used its small, shifting playing spaces to convey startling intimacy in a vast arena, this production of David Harrower’s Kill the Old Torture Their Young transformed the cozy Steep Theatre into a barren, postindustrial desert. Harrower’s text, Kathryn Walsh’s staging, and the ensemble’s performance reflected the intense isolation of a dying regional city and its residents, an isolation that persists despite the interurban and interpersonal networks typical of postmodern culture...Harrower’s play is a devastating depiction of the spaces between human beings and our half-hearted attempts to traverse them. No less devastating was Walsh’s staging, a testament to the myriad ways in which we construct and negotiate space in everyday life."
-David Calder, Theatre Journal

based in Chicago, working everywhere