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Steppenwolf’s After the Quake:

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Heartwarming, safe theater piece

by Russell Gottwaldt

Not unlike the post-9/11 comics written by Art Spiegelman, Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s short stories that take place in the 1995 Kobe earthquake aftermath are pensive and anxious, as if waiting for the other shoe to drop. Of Murakami’s six collected stories, Steppenwolf’s After the Quake blends “Super-frog Saves Tokyo” and “Honey Pie” into a one-act play where one’s imagination can keep a disaster resonating long after it’s over.

The adaptation does little to expand on Murakami’s theme of personal loss and post-tragedy resolve (and MFA writing students might argue that the stories were fluffy to begin with), but this production makes Murakami’s shorts punchy and heartwarming—and since Steppenwolf places a low premium on experimentation, it’s safe to bring your visiting parents, family friends, or your girlfriend from DePaul to After the Quake.

After the Quake runs at the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre through February 19. $20 tickets are available the day of performances. Students get discounts with ID. Buy tickets online at or call 312-335-1650.


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