The People, Yes

What better time than an election year to remind us what “American” values truly are? And how better than in Carl Sandburg’s panoramic 1936 poem (“The People move in a fine, thin smoke / The People, yes”) celebrating what Alexander Hamilton called a “great beast,” splendidly cruel, compassionate, and contradictory? After a succesful run in an Evanston basement last summer, followed by extensive touring, Theo Ubique Theatre’s 90-minute adaptation of this literary opus comes home, this time to a readily accessible venue downtown. Director Fred Anzevino has adapted his original in-the-round staging to the intimate configurations of the Chicago Cultural Center’s studio theater, keeping the action always immediate and as fluid as possible. The five ensemble members likewise guard against aural fatigue–a hazard in predominantly verbal discourse onstage–by adopting a variety of voices; they’re accompanied by Rich Green’s live incidental music. The result is an eloquent but never mawkish testimonial to the enduring American character. Chicago Cultural Center, studio theater, 78 E. Washington (enter at 77 E. Randolph), 773-338-7258. Through April 8: Fridays, 8 PM; Saturdays, 3 and 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $12.

–Mary Shen Barnidge