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The Perfect Party

THE PERFECT PARTY Northlight Theatre When sex manuals started to become best-sellers, somehow it made a sad kind of sense. Despite their rhetoric, Americans have always betrayed a certain fear of spontaneity, of letting things (let alone people and even nations) take their course. It makes us hard on ourselves, this desire to reach perfection […]

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Rollin’ With Stevens and Stewart

ROLLIN’ WITH STEVENS AND STEWART at the Amethyst Even with its attempt at supper-club ambience — white tablecloths, candlelight, and flowers — Edgewater’s Amethyst Bar and Grill is pretty funky. And its bare-brick back room in the past has played host primarily to experimental theater — some of it successful, most of it interesting, but […]

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Green Fields

GREEN FIELDS National Jewish Theater at the Frank Theater, Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center I may not be an especially good Jew, but G-d knows I’m authentic. I’ve had my bar mitzvah, my confirmation, my wedding under the chupah, my hospital circumcision. My grandfather was an immigrant tailor and my son’s got a head full […]

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Kennedy’s Children

KENNEDY’S CHILDREN Entertainment Now Productions at Cassidy’s Pub Robert Patrick’s play Kennedy’s Children was originally set in 1974 in New York. The current adaptation is set in Chicago in 1987, but that’s the least of its problems. Poorly, and in some cases atrociously acted, with next to no direction at all, Kennedy’s Children takes the […]

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Teach Your Children

KIDS IN THE DARK Victory Gardens Theater I no longer have access to the world of adolescents. I’m too old. I look like a grown-up, I dress like a grown-up, I suppose I act like a grown-up, and so teenagers treat me like a grown-up, which means they’re very careful about what they say around […]

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Killing Game

KILLING GAME Alliance Theatre Company at Igloo, the Theatrical Group Eugene Ionesco’s Killing Game seems to be a brilliant metaphor for the AIDS epidemic. This was not what the playwright intended, of course — the play was first produced in 1970. But if I had wandered into the theater without knowing who wrote this play, […]

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Little Murders

LITTLE MURDERS Cherry Street Theatre Company at the Famous Door It definitely goes against the grain to ask actors to turn themselves into cartoon characters, but that’s the only way to make Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders believable. The sort of play with no motivation more complicated than getting to the next panel, Feiffer’s black 1968 […]

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Facing the Prince

FACING THE PRINCE Fanfire Productions at the Organic Lab Theater I got that sinking feeling while thumbing through the program before the show. Under the headline, “Welcome to Fanfire,” were those phrases I’d come to fear: “improvisational method,” “group consciousness,” “alternative to theater as it exists today,” “multi-media,” and the never-before-encountered “multi-cultural ensemble work.” I […]

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Divas on Parade

BEEHIVE at the Briar Street Theatre It’s strange that an innocuous, likable entertainment like Beehive should generate the kind of sharply divided reaction that it has. And I’m not just referring to the eminent theater reviewer who carped about volume and lack of subtlety — just like my high school history teacher when the Beatles’ […]

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The Cenci; Medley

THE CENCI Cherry St. Theatre MEDLEY City Lit Theater Company Off-Off Loop Theatre Festival at the Theatre Building The Cenci, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poetic drama, as filtered through the hallucinatory, imagistic style of Antonin Artaud, has been adapted here by Megan Peterson into an expressionistically fragmented one-act, almost a ritual of pure good versus pure […]

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Edgewise; Dreamscape of the Falcon

On the Edge Theatre Company Igloo, the Theatrical Group Off-Off Loop Theatre Festival at the Theatre Building It’s 2067, and as part of the annual convention of the Ministry of Satire, Humor, and Irrigation, we’re going to see a presentation (by the Ministry of Exhibitionism, Performance, and Household Appliances — so much for the New […]

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Talley and Son

TALLEY AND SON Reflections Theatre Ensemble To the casual observer, the Talley family seems to have it all — wealth, high social standing, and a big house. Owners of a local bank, and coowners of a clothing factory doing a booming business supplying uniforms to the Army during World War II, the Talleys appear fortunate […]

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Weights; Acts of Kindness; Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music; Hamletmachine

WEIGHTS Huron Theater ACTS OF KINDNESS Seahorse Theatre Project NICE PEOPLE DANCING TO GOOD COUNTRY MUSIC Touchstone Theatre HAMLETMACHINE Chicago Actors Ensemble Off-Off Loop Theatre Festival at the Theatre Building Writing up nights one and three of this year’s Off-Off Loop Theatre Festival would’ve been child’s play if not for the Chicago Actors Ensemble and […]