Aerialist Philippe Petite’s walk between the World Trade Center towers lasted minutes and took a lifetime to plan; love and friends were lost along the way. In that vein, “Up” explores the chasm between dreams and their painful maintenance.
The Griffin family wants: Walter (Ian Barford) longs to recapture his glory day (singular) when he built a flying machine that soared; son Mikey (Jake Cohen) wants love with pregnant paramour Maria (Rachel Brosnahan) and money enough to secure their future; wife Helen (Lauren Katz) simply wants to get by.
While newcomers Brosnahan and Cohen master the show’s most affecting moment, the performers are strangely detached from an unsatisfying script (oddly, cast member and real-life wirewalker Tony Hernandez is never allowed to demonstrate that skill). Director Anna D. Shapiro’s staging doesn’t seem to utilize Dan Ostling’s curiously claustrophobic set. It’s a story about flight that never really takes off. (Lisa Buscani)
“Up” plays at Steppenwolf Downstairs Theatre, 1650 North Halsted, (312)335-1650, through August 23.