(Chris Jones’s article appeared in the Chicago Tribune, 10/19.)

Benjamin, the cynical, long-lived donkey who comes to regret not raising a hoof against tyrannical piggery, turns out to be the key to the Steppenwolf Theatre Company's blistering new 90-minute adaptation of George Orwell's "Animal Farm," the best production in the Steppenwolf for Young Adults program since "To Kill a Mockingbird" in 2010, and the third entry in a distinguished triptych of shows for youth that also includes Lydia R. Diamond's adaptation of Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" in 2005.

The erudite, empathetic ass, whom Orwell imbued with so many of the qualities that those of us who go along just to get along value, serves as the culpable narrator to all of the nefarious doings of the hoofed stand-ins for Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky, with the former, Napoleon, learning fast that a good squealer and a sharp-toothed security force can easily allow a savvy swine to throw slop down the throats of a gullible proletariat, ever anxious to think their leaders actually believe that all animals are equal.


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