(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 10/11/13.)
Detroit might be America's Motor City, but the "Motortown" of Simon Stephens' bleak, searing, deeply disturbing play of the same name is Dagenham, a working-class London exurb, famous for being the British home of the Ford Motor Co. More recently, the postindustrial Dagenham, dangling just beyond the string of the cultural and economic pearls of London, has been fertile recruiting ground for the British military, especially when it was looking for volunteers to go to Iraq.
Steep Theatre is a Chicago company increasingly known for its uncompromising acting, and Lord knows this particular production, directed by Robin Witt, more than enhances that reputation. It also has been the main Chicago home for Stephens. Also the author of "Harper Regan," "Punk Rock" and "Pornography" and similarly popular at Griffin Theatre, he was produced often in Chicago far earlier than in New York, where his plays are just now beginning to make inroads. He is a phenomenally talented writer, a formative risk-taker unstinting in theme as well as compassionate, warm and kind.