The capricious nature of the insect world provides an excellent metaphor for our society’s savagery in Steep’s compelling look at a family in crisis. The fragile ecosystem of bees underscores our world’s unpredictability and the emotional catastrophes around every bend.
In flashback, child of privilege Aaron (an appealing Brendan Meyer) leaves his Ivy League college after a crushing breakup to work as an itinerant beekeeper. While he marvels at a world he’s been sheltered from, he discovers the erratic world of bees in quick decline. In present day, his well-to-do mother Elizabeth (Kendra Thulin) tracks his travels; she is joined by industrious cab driver Happy (Jose Antonio Garcia) in an attempt to solve the riddle of her beloved son’s last days.
Thulin captures the anguish of a mother crippled by loss. Garcia’s upbeat, jovial portrayal stands in sharp contrast to Thulin’s character’s palpable pain; he can only stand by and watch as she makes her way through her personal maelstrom. Meyer successfully depicts his character’s sense of wonder, which rarely diminishes despite the setbacks and handicaps that come with working the land.
Dan Stratton’s utilitarian yet creative set enables the characters to travel easily through time and geography as they examine the past and the land. Thankfully, they find answers in each other and in the now. (Lisa Buscani)
At Steep Theatre, 1115 West Berwyn, (866)811-4111. Through August 17.