one step at a time like this and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Running time: Approximately 2hrs 20mins.
Theater review by Kris Vire
Three years ago, the Australian company called one step at a time like this brought its astonishing self-guided mobile piece en route to Chicago as part of Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s World’s Stage series. Not long after, the two companies announced they’d work together to develop a new piece in the same vein, but more directly Shakespeare-related. That piece, which I’ve been eagerly awaiting, is Since I Suppose, loosely inspired by Measure for Measure.
Two days before I embarked on my way through the piece, I received an e-mail linking to a video revealing the location in the Loop where the journey begins, and instructions to bring my cell phone for further instructions when the time came. When contact is made, you’re given headphones and a smartphone loaded with a custom app that will point your way.
The app plays audio tracks, as in en route, that explore some of the themes of Measure for Measure in the context of your Chicago surroundings. Looking at Isabella’s nunhood, for instance, we hear snippets of what sound like authentic interviews with contemporary nuns about when they heard the call.
New to Still I Suppose is a video element, what the piece refers to as “follow films”: first-person point-of-view clips in which we follow actors playing Isabella, Angelo or the Duke onscreen down the same streets or through the same halls we’re physically in. It’s an exceedingly nifty bit of navigation.
The metatheatricality ebbs and flows; this is both an indirect reinterpretation of Measure for Measure and a piece that acknowledges it’s a play about a play, an invitation to think about Measure for Measure and the ways in which its subjects play out in the here and now—power and corruption, capital punishment, the selling of sex.
Playing cards, representing the characters in the play, are a recurring motif, and in addition to the video performers you’ll have regular encounters with in-the-flesh actors, some of whom are quite deft with card tricks. (Zooming out from the immediate, artistic experience, this would be if nothing else a paean to masterful on-the-fly coordination among the many performers.)
You never know quite where you’re going next, and in some particularly intense passages you may not know quite where you are—leading up to what you could call a literal coup de théâtre in the equivalent to Measure's Act V. Since I Suppose is a powerfully, immeasurably inventive trip.