By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, Chicago Crusader
Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” directed by ensemble member Yasen Peyankov, who also directed last season’s critically acclaimed Grand Concourse is in full swing.
The rowdy dark comedy stars acclaimed London-born actor Eamonn Walker as ex-cop Pops and ensemble member James Vincent Meredith as his ex-con son Junior runs until August 21 in Steppenwolf’s Downstairs Theatre (1650 N. Halsted St). Tickets ($20 – $89) are available through Audience Services (1650 N. Halsted), 312-335-1650 and steppenwolf.org.
Ex-cop “Pops” Washington and his ex-con son Junior are barely holding on to one of the last great rent stabilized apartments in Manhattan. Pops has his hands (not to mention his apartment) full as he navigates a steady stream of sketchy houseguests and sweats out the impending verdict on his lawsuit against the police department. From the wildly original author of The Motherf**ker with the Hat, “Between Riverside and Crazy” is a celebration of the glorious contradictions that make up human nature while looking at the slippery nature of justice, and the grit it takes to finally move on.
“Stephen has always been the champion of the little guy who all the odds in the world are stacked against,” shares director Yasen Peyankov. “His characters are heartbreaking in their fragility, hidden under a veneer of toughness. He captures the language and emotions of those people so well that watching or reading his plays you have the feeling you are eavesdropping.”
The complete cast features London-born actor Eamonn Walker as ex-cop Pops and ensemble member James Vincent Meredith as his son, Junior, with ensemble member Tim Hopper as Lieutenant Caro, Victor Almanzar as Oswaldo, Elena Flores as Lulu, Audrey Francis as Detective O’Connor and Lily Mojekwu as Church Lady.
Eamonn Walker is a British film, television and theatre actor who currently stars on NBC’s “Chicago Fire.” He is well known for his role as ‘Kareem Saïd’ in the HBO series “Oz,” for which he won a CableACE Award, as well as his work in the films “Once in the Life,” “Unbreakable,” “Tears of the Sun” and “Lord of War.” Ensemble member James Vincent Meredith, who recently played Othello at Chicago Shakespeare Theater to critical acclaim, has performed in many notable Steppenwolf performances including “The Crucible,” “Clybourne Park,” and “Superior Donuts” (also on Broadway). Ensemble member Tim Hopper was last seen in John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ The Compass this season. Audrey Francis performed in last season’s “The Herd,” Lily Mojekwu performed in Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life and Elena Flores was in Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ The House on Mango Street. Victor Almanzar returns to the role of ‘Oswaldo’ in Between Riverside and Crazy, which he performed at the Second Stage Theatre and Atlantic Theatre and was nominated for The Lucille Lortel Award for Best Supporting Actor.