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Steep Theatre’s Powerful New Play, The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle

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Photo: Lee Miller

“The wishes of dead people don’t usually concern us,” Roger tells the main character of The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle midway through this witty and engaging play. Yet, as becomes abundantly clear in the Steep Theatre Co.’s latest production, the intentions of the departed can, and do, make a difference.

Irish playwright Ross Dungan was just 21 when he wrote his first full-length play that wonders if there is such a thing as a small life after all. However, if there is, the Steep Theatre Co. certainly makes it hard to imagine it as so. In this engrossing performance, capably led by director Jonathan Berry and spiritedly acted by an ensemble cast of 13, the answer would clearly be no.

Jonathan Berry has an almost a choreographic approach to the movements he creates on stage, Steep Theatre Co. Executive Director Kate Piatt-Eckert said on Sunday, Feb. 8, after the 3 p.m. matinee that was almost completely sold out. She added the play has deeply affected people of all ages. The idea of “a character looking back on his life … it rings true and resonates with a lot of people. We have a lot of people coming out asking us for a tissue.”

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Photo: Lee Miller

It’s difficult not to get involved in The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle, whose seemingly insignificant life is densely analyzed on stage. Argyle never seems to become the man that others think he can become. He turns down change, and declines challenge, as seemingly as often as his best friend gladly takes them up. Yet it’s his secret life as a writer and the work he quietly attends to unbeknownst to others that leads to the greatest impact of all — even if that impact occurs after his death.

“I thought it was classic storytelling,” audience member Scott Newman of Lincoln Park said, adding that the narrator helped set the pace of the fast-moving play by explaining the actions right before they were set to occur. “I liked the idea of … that moment of death, the reckoning of death, the judgment of it all.”

Performances of The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle have been extended and will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until March 14, and on Sundays at 3 p.m. until March 1. The Steep Theatre Co. is located at 1115 W. Berwyn Ave. Tickets are $10-$35. To purchase tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.steeptheatre.com. For general information, call 773-649-3186.


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