Anne Marie Healy’s Have You Seen Steve Steven? is a very Twilight Zone-esque play set in the Midwest, a place New Yorkers already think of as eerie and robotic. Amidst yet another upper-middle-class housing complex, the Clarksons’ old family friends, the Dudleys, are coming over for dinner, and they’re pushing their 17-year-old daughter Kathleen toward 17-year-old Thomas Dudley, whom she hasn’t seen in years. Things start to get wacky, and then even wackier, when unknown neighbors invite themselves into the house, and Thomas and Kathleen begin to remember their childhood adventures together. There’s also a freak-eyed exchange student whose name nobody seems to get right.
The hyper-Midwest environment on stage is an endless supply of smart laughs, providing a wincing perspective on American culture. Playwright Healy keeps the character dynamics intriguing, and seasoned downtown director Anne Kauffman varies the tempo, keeping the audience a little uncertain and definitely engaged. And the cast is nothing short of superb.
But as the play approached its crescendo, I became increasingly unsure of the meaning of the actions and words, though I continued to be interested, and even invested, in this odd interpretation on the coming-of-age story. And perhaps that, right there, is the point: when reaching adulthood, when trying so desperately to be our own person, there are things we can’t understand, and there are things others will never understand about us.