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A Marvelous Party: The Noel Coward Celebration

Not even Anna Lauris’s showstopper–she single-handedly performs an entire operetta–can salvage this uninspired assemblage of dated novelty songs by playwright-songwriter-bon vivant Noel Coward. A coproduction with Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York, A Marvelous Party offers only disconnected epigrams and a pastiche of 30s tuxedo-movie moments involving elegant tipsiness (The Thin Man) and sinuous […]

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Nathan the Wise

This lovely little show is like a Shakespeare comedy set to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade, full of wise and generous leaders, beautiful young couples, comic relief, and easily averted trouble. Or perhaps it’s a counter to The Merchant of Venice, since the wrath of Jew haters is turned away by a soft answer and a Jew’s daughter […]

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4.48 Psychosis

Sarah Kane’s play is about power: the power to define, to control, to make others confront something terrifying–like this work, especially in the Hypocrites’ unremittingly intense production, which requires the audience to stand or follow the action around the space. Kane, who committed suicide before the play premiered, vividly dramatizes the struggle between a woman […]

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Crave

In 50 blistering minutes the four unnamed characters delivering Sarah Kane’s prose poem, talking against rather than with one another, manage to distill all their individual and collective existential struggles. If they all seem to be operating on the knife-edge of sanity, it’s because their subjects are maddening: how and why to stay alive amid […]

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Joffrey Ballet

The headliner may be Frederick Ashton’s 1964 The Dream, danced to the music of Mendelssohn. But the real story is Jiri Kylian’s gorgeously abstract four-movement Return to a Strange Land, set to Janacek sonatas. Its moves are complex yet feel inevitable: two men embrace across a woman suspended between them, then keep their legs entwined […]

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Hamlet

Though this production inaugurates a space for “artists working outside the traditional methodology of the text-based theater,” director Blake Montgomery’s elegant, clean-lined Hamlet is radical only in that it returns the play to its roots, stripping away centuries of convention and received wisdom. There is one departure from the text, however: the final scene is […]

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St. Colm’s Inch

In Robert Koon’s new play, the stranger who comes to town is death, and the focus is its impact on the dead woman’s ex-husband and sister. John Dewey is a professor burdened with the philosopher’s name who was cashiered for plagiarizing and handled his disgrace by drinking and wrecking his marriage to Marie. Though he […]

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Stage Combat

Frenchman Victor Haim’s play sending up the affectations of theater intellectuals and the divas who love them must have been a laugh riot in Paris, where the existential poseur was invented and “deconstruction” is a punch line. But translator-director Jack Trahey resets the piece in Chicago, which leaves it culturally adrift. What remains in this […]

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Time and the Conways

Griffin Theatre Company director Jonathan Berry understands perfectly the significance of J.B. Priestley’s title: time is as much a character in this 1938 play as any member of the Conway family. What could have been a simple family melodrama–a mother and six children celebrate the end of World War I, then reassemble 20 years later–instead […]