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Posted inArts & Culture

A Huge Horrible Failure

A Huge Horrible Failure, Annoyance Theatre. Director Gary Ruderman’s description of this play as about “a guy who tried to do something and failed” is too simple. Created through improvisation, the piece offers a whole assortment of sorry characters–all but one portrayed by Matt Dwyer and Dick Costolo–who present a collective image of failure that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Storytellers 99

Storytellers 99, TinFish Productions. Just when it seemed that Halloween had been reduced to bowls of peeled grapes masquerading as eyeballs, “StoryTellers 99” reminds audiences what real terror is all about. This evening, featuring dramatizations of five classic horror stories by Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and others, isn’t about the bloodbaths common to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Woman Alive: A Mockudrama

Woman Alive: A Mockudrama, Nomenil Theatre Company, at SweetCorn Playhouse. Imagine a women’s empowerment film made around 1972 featuring actors trained on The Brady Bunch. With this production Nomenil lives up to its reputation for serving strange fare: farcical ham rolled up in disturbing, stinky cheese that leaves people wondering an hour later what the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Jane: Abortion and the Underground

Jane: Abortion and the Underground, Green Highway Theater, at the Chopin Theatre. Few issues elicit a greater emotional response than abortion rights. Here journalist and playwright Paula Kamen dramatizes the experiences of the Hyde Park women who responded to this issue by creating an underground abortion service that helped 11,000 Chicago women between 1969 and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Journal of Ordinary Thought

The Journal of Ordinary Thought, Chicago Theatre Company. Viewed up close, a mosaic is a collection of random fragments. Step back and the pieces blend to form a clear, vivid image. In The Journal of Ordinary Thought, the fragments are poems and bits of life stories: since 1991, Chicago’s South Side Neighborhood Writing Alliance has […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bettie Page Uncensored

Bettie Page Uncensored, at the Playground. Bettie Page, for anyone who doesn’t know, was a pinup model in the 50s and 60s. Prosecution for indecency ultimately drove her into hiding, but her likeness can still be found on bar walls, calendars, and, of course, the Web. In Bettie Page Uncensored, writer-director-producer Michael Flores attempts to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Poor, Poor Lear

Poor, Poor Lear, A Walk About Theater Company, at Breadline Theatre. Here 29-year-old Finnish writer-performer Nina Sallinen plays 80-year-old Finnish actress Nina Sallinen, a grande dame who invites the audience into her small apartment to see her farewell performance, a solo production of King Lear. As Sallinen acts out all the parts herself, with the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Vanities

VANITIES, Phoenix Ascending, at the Athenaeum Theatre. If there were a Cliffs Notes published on Jack Heifner’s Vanities, it would read: “Cheerleaders can be superficial. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with your life. Your best friends may outgrow you.” Though a quarter century ago the play was a hit, today it rings […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Imagining Brad

IMAGINING BRAD, Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company. In life, we play the hand we’re dealt. And in this engaging drama, Peter Hedges–best known for the screenplay What’s Eating Gilbert Grape–uncovers the survival tactics of two very different women. Unfolding over nine short scenes, the play begins simply enough. Dana Sue Kay–a loud, nosy, but well-meaning southern Christian–tries […]

Posted inArts & Culture

There I Was

THERE I WAS, at Live Bait Theater. Picture Walter Mitty as a mousy female office temp and you have the entertaining premise of Jennifer Biddle’s one-woman show, part of Live Bait’s “Fillet of Solo Festival.” But Biddle’s character, Mabel, does not so much try to avoid her life as simply revel in her own creations. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Genetic Material

GENETIC MATERIAL, at Live Bait Theater. Like DNA, our singular life stories make us unique. And that’s the thrust of Genetic Material, an evening of autobiographical monologues by Tekki Lomnicki and Lotti Pharriss in Live Bait Theater’s “Fillet of Solo Festival.” In “Paper Doll,” Lomnicki expresses smart-assed disgust with the people who’ve referred to her […]