The Job | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Job, Steep Theatre Company. Frank is a criminal who wants to go straight, but all his decisions turn out horribly wrong. Desperate, hungry, and homeless, he wants to marry his girlfriend, the prostitute Mags, but feels he can't without a ring. Believing that a job will save him, Frank applies at an employment agency.

But in Shem Bitterman's spare, well-wrought play--the first to be produced in Steep's new home--a job can never provide redemption. Frank's representative at the employment agency (Alex Gillmor) is a sly exemplar of corporate soullessness and cruelty. In return for unquestioning loyalty and mindless precision, he offers Frank thousands of dollars for one job: killing someone. Religion can't save Frank either. All the practitioners here are cowardly liars. Frank fears for his soul, but Bitterman believes he should fear for his life.

Brendan Melanson at first seems the wrong actor to play Frank. A gentle teddy bear, he shows no sign of underground menace, no hint that he could ever have done anything willfully wrong--until near the end, when he undergoes a gradual transformation and turns steely. Rachel Tomlinson is an astute Mags who reeks of truth. And Peter Moore as the huckster priest and a rabbity John Wilson as Frank's potential victim give depth to a play worthy of their considerable talents.

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