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Dralion

Any company that has two extravaganzas playing simultaneously in Las Vegas has definitely entered the rarefied world of the juggernaut. But the wonderful thing about Montreal’s Cirque du Soleil, now appearing at the United Center in its first performances here in three years, is that it defies knee-jerk cynicism. In Dralion the company explores the […]

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Round and Round: A Sex-Farce Tragedy

ROUND AND ROUND: A SEX-FARCE TRAGEDY, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Lunar Cabaret. The subtitle of Jenny Magnus’s new play is telling: the piece does balance these two conflicting genres in a taut, funny, but finally mournful look at the power struggles and games played out in relationships. Magnus locates her intricate story of a […]

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The Field 3-City Exchange

One of the most quietly innovative multidisciplinary performance workshops in the United States, the Field has for years yielded a rich crop of new work from choreographers, playwrights, other spoken-word artists, and intriguing hybrids of the above. Started in New York, this artist-run organization now has branches in 11 other cities, including Chicago. The idea […]

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Women Seeking Women, Men Seeking Men

Sappho in Love Bailiwick Repertory Prism Bailiwick Repertory By Kerry Reid Chicago writer Paula Kamen in her recent report on young women and sex, Her Way, coined the expression “superrat” to designate “a new breed of sexual individualists” among the fairer sex. With all due respect to Kamen, she’s about 2,500 years late with that […]

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Offending Shadows

OFFENDING SHADOWS, TriArts Inc., at the Viaduct Theater. Playwright-director Barbara Carlisle’s years as a theater professor may have taught her how to allude to a wide variety of plays, but they haven’t helped her create a compelling piece of theater. In this turgid, plodding “meta-theatrical” feminist retelling of Sophocles’ Oedipus and Antigone (which I saw […]

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Hungry Hearts

Hard Times Lookingglass Theatre Company at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts By Kerry Reid Bread and circuses are scarce in Charles Dickens’s grim Coketown. Sustenance is hard to come by for those who labor in the textile mills, and fun is forbidden to the miserable Gradgrind children, whose utilitarian middle-class father believes only […]

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Deaf to History

Night Battles Live Bait Theater By Kerry Reid “Biography is the mesh through which our real life escapes,” observes Oscar Wilde in Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love. History often seems an industrial-size fishing net, gathering up all manner of statistics, movements, beliefs, and half-remembered stories from the briny deep of the past. Some evidence […]

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The Terrible Girls

The Terrible Girls, About Face Theatre. Rebecca Brown’s episodic 1990 novel about women in love (and out of it) has drawn comparisons to the work of lesbian high priestess of high modernism Djuna Barnes. And Brown’s view of romantic love as inherently obsessive, occasionally abusive, and consuming to the point of cannibalism does share some […]

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The Junk Show

One person’s trash is Kate Sheehy’s treasure–and a treat for anyone who likes their puppetry and performance art compelling, fresh, and homemade. Sheehy curated “The Junk Show” at Link’s Hall and conceived and directed the festival’s signature piece, Junk Farm, an episodic parable of urban sprawl, deforestation, depersonalization, and exploitation featuring miniature shadow puppets, found […]

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Need

NEED, Half Cocked Productions, at the Space. Writer-director Arik Martin’s new black comedy reminds me a lot of Quentin Tarantino–before he began taking himself too seriously and became a bloated celebrity-machine joke. Some of Martin’s staging of this tale about hoodlums, junkies, and just plain weirdos recalls classic Tarantino setups. But what really makes the […]

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Night Visions

NIGHT VISIONS, Flush Puppy Productions, at Heaven Gallery, through April 21. The landscape of dreams is the thin unifying thread for this second festival from Flush Puppy Productions (their first, “Gonads,” was on the theme of sex). Four playlets and one song examine subconscious states and daydreams. The turgid, repetitive films in Matthew Osmon’s Nocturnal […]

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Men and Monsters

The Action Against Sol Schumann Victory Gardens Theater By Kerry Reid David Horowitz’s name doesn’t come up once in Jeffrey Sweet’s taut, moving, intelligent play. But in the difficult issues Sweet raises I felt the weighty presence of this vociferous and controversial opponent of slave reparations. How do we forgive the unforgivable? More to the […]

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Each in His Own Way

EACH IN HIS OWN WAY, TinFish Theatre. “Life,” Thomas Hardy observed, “is a series of seemings.” In Luigi Pirandello’s 1924 comedy, the serial seemings come fast and furious, inside out and upside down. Dragan Torbica directs a solid revival of this absurdist version of a revenger’s tragedy: a beautiful but fickle actress inspires infidelity, suicide, […]