Discover your Purpose at Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Mon. March 25, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Finding an individual's purpose in life can be a long journey, just part of the story surrounding Steppenwolf Theatre's world premiere of Purpose.

Actor Jon Michael Hill begins this family affair by breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience. He serves as the narrator to catch the audience up to speed and help explain some of these unique family dynamics. He also portrays the younger son of a family of four named Nazareth Jasper who returns home to celebrate his mother Claudine's birthday.

Upon arrival, he discovers his brother Junior is already staying at his parent's homestead with his wife Morgan. His father Solomon is a fictional character imagined by writer Brenden Jacobs-Jenkins and placed in reality as a famous Black historical figure.

Things slowly heat up between the family members as a snowstorm begins outside the house.

This gives room to play with the various characters and situations while being snowed in together for a night with a surprise guest.

The creators of Purpose have found their purpose by showcasing talented performers who address a plethora of important topics.

There's queer content mixed with religion and politics which also invokes lively conversation. The script also covers social justice, prison reform, mental health and pandemic challenges plus plenty of surprises along the way.

Director Phylicia Rashad is familiar with situations where fans gush and are caught up in someone's public persona. This is evident in one particular section that rings true and is delivered earnestly by Ayanna Bria Bakari.

The entire cast is phenomenal and there is not a weak link in the bunch. They each know how to captivate and endear their characters to the audience. While we may not like our family members we have to love them and these performers carry that idea across the finish line with gusto.

Purpose could benefit from editing down some of the material as the second act is long and tackles way too many subjects. The heart of this tale is about searching for love in the world and how our family can influence that. This will resonate with many when finding Purpose at Steppenwolf Theatre in the spring of 2024, so pull a seat up at the family dinner table and see for yourself.

Find your Purpose in the Downstairs Theater, 1650 North Halsted Street, running now until April 28 with tickets at