Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Chicago

First Floor Theatre
Review by Richard T. Green|Season Schedule

Also see Richard's review of Roe, John's review of The Boys in the Band and Ruth's review of Veronica's Room

Elizabeth Birnkrant, Ashley Neal, and Amanda Fink
Photo by Gracie Meier
All I'm saying is, we could all be better husbands. Even if we're not married. Even if we look like space aliens, or have strange identical twins, or other unknowable selves, numbering in the dozens or scores. The fears and worries of wives are too great, and consuming and circular: always coming back to the same point of not knowing; not knowing if we're truly faithful; not knowing if we're secretly gay; not knowing if we're horrible godlike beings who simultaneously both love and hate them, just like their mothers, who all had the same fears about their own husbands. It would drive these three sisters mad, in Will Arbery's Plano, if madness were a place you could drive to. Most of the action takes place in Dallas. And Plano, though readily accessible by car, is just the horrible synthetic version of that, a sham-marriage twin of Dallas, in this absurd and delightful comedy in the First Floor Theatre at Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Or maybe it really is Plano.

But we'll talk about that later. Okay it's later. Wasn't Plano great? (It really is.) But will the three sisters ever get to Plano? Am I just theater's undependable, incomprehensible husband, flitting from show to show, falling in love with every successful one, and disdaining every bad one, as if there really was a good or bad in any of this? (This 2018 comedy is highly successful, under the direction of Steppenwolf ensemble member Audrey Francis.) Am I making a horrible mistake comparing every play to Chekhov, and every actor to Eddie Bracken? (Heck no, Eddie Bracken was a genius.) Is that what makes a guy like me irresistible to a certain kind of woman? (It is.)

In Plano, a million rapid-fire soliloquies, mostly from Ann, Genevieve and Isabel (classically absurd Elizabeth Birnkrant, Ashley Neal and Amanda Fink) swirl delightfully, like fiery dots in "Star Trek," as if some perfect version of their husbands is just about to materialize. But it only gets more and more complicated every time.

Ann's husband (Christopher Acevedo) disappears every night, and sometimes goes by John or Juan; Genevieve's (Andrew Cutler) splits in two, after they did or did not divorce (in Genevieve's mind, she seems to have divorced him, but perhaps can't give him up—or maybe it's the other way around). And Isabel is haunted by some unidentifiable disease that wracks her body, but which may only be a mysterious god, or a husband she secretly thinks is God, played by Andrew Lund in one of those creepy mirror masks and a costume that resembles a torn fencing uniform.

I mean, of course, a fencing uniform that looks like it's torn. Obviously it's not made out of torn fencing. That would just be distancing and would leave you feeling incomprehensibly vulnerable, as it would be a terrible means of protection against all the slugs and bees, right? I mean, do women really fence, verbally, with themselves and each other, non-stop for 90 minutes like this every night about their husbands or boyfriends or lovers? And torn fencing, while attractive wending its way around some run-down country barn, is just a symbol of decay and bad husbands who can't keep up a relationship and show extremely little interest in doing so, right?

All I'm saying is that relationships are both impossible and essential. And anyone who says otherwise is probably very happily married indeed, to someone who's completely miserable.

Plano, part of the LookOut Series, continues through March 28, 2020, at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, 1650 North Halsted Street. For tickets and information, please visit

Cast (in order of appearance>):
Ann: Elizabeth Birnkrant
Genevieve: Ashley Neal
Isabel: Amanda Fink*
John/Juan: Christopher Acevedo
Steve: Andrew Cutler*
Faceless Ghost: Andrew Lund
Mary: Janice O'Neil

Director: Audrey Francis**
Scenic Designer: Kristen Martino
Lighting Designer: Jason Lynch
Sound Designer & Composition: Eric Backus
Costume Designer: Raquel Adorno
Movement Design: Micah Figueroa
Stage Management: Lucy Whipp
Production Manager: Caitlin McCarthy*
Production Management: Cole von Glahn*
Technical Direction: Bobby Huggins*

Additional Production Credits:
Master Electrician and Associate Lighting Designer: David Dawson
Assistant Production Management: Taylor Lindemann
Assistant Director: Gracie Meier*
Casting: Catherine Miller*
Public Relations: David Rosenberg
Director of Audience Services: Katie Foggiano

* Denotes First Floor Company Member

** Denotes Steppenwolf Ensemble Member