Washington Post Describes Play About Pedophiles “Brilliant”


The Washington Post recently wrote a lengthy piece about  “Downstate” a play about pedophiles.
In the article, the play about pedophiles is described as “brilliant”.
The plotline in Downstate is about how pedophiles are treated inhumanely and in harsh ways after they serve their prison sentences.
Fred abused two of his preadolescent piano students, Dee abused a boy while acting in a production of Peter Pan, Felix molested his own daughter, and Gio was convicted of statutory rape. All four of the main characters are shown as struggling with life and what is characterized as the undue burden of social stigma due to their offense history.
Fred in particular is portrayed as struggling to live in a wheelchair due to an injury sustained after being attacked in prison, while Felix is served up to audiences as a tragic figure after being prohibited from contacting the daughter he molested.
The play initially premiered in 2018, and, according to a Chicago Tribune report at the time, the Steppenwolf Theatre was anxious to run it due to perceptions it was too sympathetic to pedophiles, but did so anyway.
The production and its large cast were sponsored by the funding of Powerball lottery winner Roy Cockrum who wanted to support “massive, out-of-the-ordinary artistic projects.” Cockrum has also funded a play titled “2666,” which depicts a brutal rapist and murderer’s crimes against young women in graphic detail.

Among Norris’ other works include a play titled Domesticated, which first premiered in 2013. Domesticated is centered around a politician who is caught in a hotel room with a prostitute dressed as a schoolgirl. In that play, which was described as “very juicy,” the woman suffers brain damage and falls into a coma after either falling or being pushed and hitting her head.
Following the recent return of Downstate to the post-COVID stage this month, theatre critic Mark Peters published a shockingly positive review in The Washington Post that is now attracting ample backlash.

In a review dated November 23, Peters called the play “brilliant,” and “scintillating,” describing Norris’ “provocative efforts” to go for the “societal jugular” as resulting in one of the best theater evenings of 2022. Peters tells readers that Norris’ depiction of these predators, who have completed their prison terms, causes audience members to “seizes on [their] reflexive response to these crimes and [shift] emotional focus to the perpetrators.”
Although admitting the offenses each of the four men committed as heinous, Peters considers the moral question Norris presents- of whether the punishments for their crimes are harsh and inhumane- as one that our “retributive correctional culture would rather not have to debate.” Peters also lauds Norris for his portrayal of one of the offenders’ victims, a man named Andy, as “disagreeable.”

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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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