First Look review: “King James” at The Steppenwolf chronicles the friendship of two fans against the backdrop of Lebron James’ legacy
By Michael Dritto
Photos by Michael Brosilow
Playing at: The Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted Street in Chicago through April 10, 20222. 312-335-1650. Steppenwolf.org
Basic storyline: At the height of Lebron’s rookie season in the NBA, two young, die-hard Cleveland Cavalier fans meet up to exchange some season tickets. The two form a bond through their intense love of basketball and begin a friendship that we watch evolve over the course of Lebron’s storied career.
What stood out: To me, the two things that stood out the most about this show were the dialogue and the acting. Playwright Rajiv Joseph establishes quick, witty, rapid-fire banter that successfully manages to establish character, move the plot forward, and keep you entertained and engaged for the entire two-hour performance.
Playwright Rajiv Joseph establishes quick, witty, rapid-fire banter. … and it doesn’t take long to realize the two actors have incredible chemistry with one another.
There is a natural rhythm at play here, making the replication of scenes involving close friends engaged in excited debate seem easy. Hearing them bicker about the loyalties of Lebron brought me back to my college days, when my friends and I would do the same thing. Although I am from Florida, so I was very excited that Lebron brought Miami a couple championships. Needless to say, my opinion on that subject may be biased.
What helped elevate the writing in King James, though, were the performances of Chris Perfetti and Khloe Janel. It doesn’t take long to realize the two actors have incredible chemistry with one another — a connection that is vital for what is just a two-person show. Their energy seems to bounce off one another so effortlessly that 20 minutes into the show, I realized it had actually been an hour and we were already at intermission.
Final thoughts: This is a fun, flowing performance audiences will be able to connect with easily. It’s sure to be a favorite for any fan of basketball — even more so for Cleveland Cavalier fans — and well worth it for anyone who is fully invested in the argument of who is the GOAT: MJ or King James?