In Lanford Wilson's elaborate, character-driven play, it's not so much a storyline that unfolds over its two plus hours of running time as it is the characters themselves. In a sprawling, aging, multi-level hotel (beautifully rendered by James Schuette), the various tenants (consisting of all types from retirees to call-girls to wannabe bio-entrepreneurs) go about their daily lives, dealing with hopes, struggles, and the recent notice that their home will soon be torn down. With a plot that mostly goes nowhere, and leaves most points unresolved, it's an undeniably impressive accomplishment that this show keeps the audience engaged, and at times even evokes emotional connections.
Working with a powerful cast, consisting of numerous Steppenwolf ensemble members as well as several other familiar faces, director Tina Landau captures the very human spirit of this complex script. But while some audience members may revel in the choose-your-own-adventure aspect of numerous conversations occurring simultaneously, some may find it disconcerting and sometimes even chaotic. Occasional shifts in light focus help draw attention to various areas of the stage at times, but these shifts can feel more distracting than helpful, abruptly changing the show's pace for one or two sentences. There's enough talent on this stage for the actors to draw audience attention to the proper moments without light changes.
The light musical interludes sprinkled throughout the show add a welcome sense of the unexpected. Even in the final moments of the show it's never clear what will happen next - will someone start a fight, break into song, or just decide to strip naked on the staircase? My feelings about the show are best summed up by one character's response when asked the point of a story she recounts: "I didn't get it at all but I thought it was very amusing."