Posted inGhost Light

The return of “theater prom”

The Non-Equity Jeff Awards, affectionately known as “theater prom,” came roaring back after a four-year hiatus at the Park West on Monday, March 27. And it’s safe to say the program, directed by Adrian Abel Azevedo, was a lovefest through and through. The awards show (coming on the heels of the packed opening of the […]

Posted inTheater Review

Guineverean legend

Idle Muse Theatre Company’s The Last Queen of Camelot, scripted and directed by Idle Muse artistic director Evan M. Jackson, plays like an Arthurian fantasy graphic novel come to life. Jackson’s take on the tale of legendary sixth-century British King Arthur Pendragon (Joel Thompson) focuses on Queen Guinevere (Caty Gordon-Hall), Arthur’s wife through an arranged […]

Posted inTheater Review

Out in orbit

Originally developed by the Philadelphia-based Pig Iron Theatre Company in 2015, this queer adventure drag alt-comedy feels both like a natural fit for Hell in a Handbag Productions and a reach light-years away from its usual projects—sisters from across the multiverse, you could say. Depressed and apathetic about modern dating, a young gay man (Robert […]

Posted inTheater Review

Soviet slapstick

Heading into opening night of Dying for It at Artistic Home, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Moira Buffini’s adaptation of The Suicide, a 1928 satire by Soviet playwright Nikolai Erdman that was banned by Joseph Stalin. Frankly, the subject matter sounded a bit niche—or maybe I was just feeling rusty on Soviet history […]

Posted inTheater Review

A perfect nightmare

Like the people in the allegorical Tower of Babel, the citizens of Jacqueline Goldfinger’s futuristic Babel are seeking oneness. The kind of oneness that mankind has never reasonably come close to, because each person is born with a set of characteristics, skills, and behaviors—unless we engage in eugenics. In an eerily not-so-distant-seeming future, Goldfinger’s world […]

Posted inDance

Trilogy of terpsichore

In 2016, the Chicago Cultural Center presented the exhibition Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen. Built by the Dutch inventor since 1990 and described by their maker as “new forms of life,” strandbeests surpass their man-made material—PVC pipes—to become something animate and other, each with dozens of narrow yellow legs. Simultaneously archaic and advanced, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Lyric Opera’s Proximity

Spectacle? It’s long been the grand opera’s calling card. But never quite like this. Lyric Opera’s world premiere production of Proximity—closer to Immersive Van Gogh or Art on the Mart than to Aida—opened at the opera house last week. Directed and “mixed” by Yuval Sharon (creator of the parking garage Wagner, Twilight: Gods, which he […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Black culture as a force for change

“Things Well Worth Waiting For” is a small-scale, deeply comprehensive exhibition that transports you to a different time where women wore flamboyant dresses, men drove classic cars, segregation prevailed, and the power of soul music was palpable. Photojournalist and activist Kwame Brathwaite was there, documenting it all—in words and in photographs.  Occupying two galleries at […]

Posted inArts & Culture

A timely Turing

After a promising Chicago workshop performance four years ago, Chicago Opera Theater’s The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing returned for a two-performance world premiere at the Harris Theater last week, conducted by COT music director Lidiya Yankovskaya. It’s a gut-wrenching piece in a well-crafted production, with two major themes that couldn’t be more contemporary: […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Steeped in history

In the most famous lines of his 1855 poem “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman writes, “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” After reading S. L. Wisenberg’s insightful new book, The Wandering Womb: Essays in Search of Home, it’s clear that she, too, contains […]

Posted inTheater Review

Fire sale

What does material success look like to young people in 2023? Is it possible to attain the lifestyle they see in 80s TV shows? Is that something to aspire to? A talented Neo-Futurist troupe takes on capitalism, parents’ expectations, their own hopes and dreams, and whether it’s even possible to just get by in this […]

Posted inTheater Review

The pain of history

I cannot recommend this play without caveats. At least to Black people.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad play. As a matter of fact, it’s a very good play. It’s clever, well-written, timely, and it makes good use of unusual devices. The quality of the play is not the problem.  The problem […]

Posted inTheater Review

Interactive inclusivity

Filament Theatre’s Think Fast, Jordan Chase!, written by Sonia Goldberg and directed by Jamal Howard, is full of plot twists which weave in and out of schoolyard and fantasy. Addressing difficult social scenarios that kids encounter, it opens with a plucky Jordan (Christabel Donkor) and her majestic bestie Mahari (Joolz Stroop) on the playground. Relations […]

Posted inTheater Review

Beckettian summit

Dame Peggy Ashcroft considered the role of Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s notoriously difficult Happy Days a “summit part,” one of those roles, like Hamlet or King Lear, that tests an actor’s mettle and proves her alpha status in the pack. (Ashcroft played Winnie in a 1975 production at the Old Vic Theatre in London.) Chicago […]