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As far as I could tell, to keep them out of her hair (and off the lawn), Penelope designated the drained pool as an encampment area. For one reason or another (murder comes to mind), there are only four Speedo-clad suitors left, Burns (Ian Barford), Dunne (Scott Jaeck), Fitz (Tracy Letts) and Quinn (Yasen Peyankov). A blood stain on the floor is the result of a suicide the day before.
Although it’s obvious they loathe each other, they have established a certain level of compatibility, but supplies are short, and they sense they are running out of time.
Whenever the enigmatic Penelope comes to her window above the pool, a siren goes off, spotlights go on, and a suitor appears on Penelope’s TV with a chance to win her love. They strut, preen and connive, but she remains unimpressed.
As Dunne has his go, he lets his anger take over. Although Quinn is ready, the next spotlight hits Fitz who talks more about the meaning of life than his love. To their surprise, Penelope opens the blinds to look directly at Fitz, something that has never happened before.
When Quinn has his turn, he does a quick-changing famous lovers cabaret routine (Napoleon/Josephine, Rhett/Scarlett, Jackie/John Kennedy in Dallas) to ‘A Taste of Honey,’ which ends in Burns stabbing him to death.
By the way, Tracy Letts joined the cast a couple of weeks ago when John Mahoney had to leave the show due to a death in his family.
Steppenwolf has included a black and white Manga version of The Odyssey with the program. What fun!
“Ewww, gross,” was my thought when I read that I would be seeing four not-so-young men on stage for an entire play in Speedos – and what is it about abandoned pools? (see my review of a recent Court Theatre production). There’s a lot of angst in one 90 minute act, but I do recommend “Penelope.”
“Penelope” runs through February 5th Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St., Chicago. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00 pm. For holiday schedule, check with the box office. Tickets range from $20-$78. FYI (312) 335-1650 or www.steppenwolf.org.