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Losing Rachel

LOSING RACHEL, Twilight Sun Theatre Company, at Profiles Theatre. It’s not too late to stave off the yawns by transforming Louie Bruce’s script into an interactive experience. Just hand out a two-by-four with every paid admission: audience members could smash the CD player to bits rather than hear the same three grating alt-rock songs from […]

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Things That Go Missing

THINGS THAT GO MISSING, Curious Theatre Branch. Beau O’Reilly’s scripts tend to feature type A personalities running circles around a character who’s slightly out of step with the world: a henpecked introvert, a coolly rational observer, an easily agitated misanthrope. In this evening of three short plays, reportedly each written with a particular actor in […]

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Writ Small

(The) Violent Sex Visions & Voices Theatre Company at Chicago Dramatists If someone could write about writing with one-tenth the intensity Roger Kahn brings to baseball, the literary world might have itself a new champion. But the process of actually committing words to the page and wrestling over grammar and spelling and meaning is universal […]

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Action Movie: The Play

ACTION MOVIE: THE PLAY, Defiant Theatre, at the Chopin Theatre. A few minor cuts aside, Joe Foust and Richard Ragsdale’s oft-revived parody of blockbuster films is being restaged in a form that most resembles 1999’s Action Movie: The Play–The Director’s Cut. But the reflexive slant of action movies diminishes the comic effect of the story: […]

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Cry Havoc

CRY HAVOC, Bailiwick Repertory. “Love always means eventual pain,” comments one character in Tom Coasch’s troubling exploration of colonialist aftershocks in Egypt. “And pain is the evidence of love.” But Coasch’s observations don’t ring true in the play, as a mincing British translator and a semicloseted Egyptian reactionary attempt to recover in a decrepit Cairo […]

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The Love of a Good Man

THE LOVE OF A GOOD MAN, Clock Productions, at National Pastime Theater. A warning to the uninitiated: radical British playwright Howard Barker can go on for what seems an eternity. He doesn’t believe in shying away from controversy or editing his politicized tracts: his The Ecstatic Bible (2000) clocked in at more than six hours. […]

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Blue Man Group

That three guys in bright blue makeup who bang on giant PVC pipes with mallets continue to inspire such devotion is as amazing as the show itself. If you’re one of the handful of people in the Chicago metro area who hasn’t seen it yet, please ask the couple next door for a blow-by-blow description–they’ve […]

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Air Tact Light

AIR TACT LIGHT, PAC/edge Performance Festival, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Logic conspires to make director Brian Torrey Scott’s new performance piece, created by the ensemble on the basis of a framework he devised, as deadeningly formalistic as a John Cage work. Air Tact Light gains life only when the performers briefly and seemingly accidentally escape […]

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My Name Is Mudd

Playwright-director Shawn Prakash Reddy has fine-tuned his gloriously profane send-up of historical reenactments, premiered last fall at the Rhinoceros Theater Festival. Fortunately he’s kept the excellent six-member ensemble and general approach, putting forth speculative half-truths and fabricating outrageous lies about John Wilkes Booth’s 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Obscuring key facts about the principal figures […]

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Mr. Peters’ Connections

MR. PETERS’ CONNECTIONS, Raven Theatre. Judging by this 1998 rumination on death and the meaning of life, Arthur Miller has fallen into the twilight of his career. Abandoning portraits of America in favor of individual biography, he offers just enough moments of clarity and snatches of keen dialogue to sketch the outline of his former […]

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Lysistrata 3000

LYSISTRATA 3000, American Demigods, at the Athenaeum Theatre. It seems every young company eager to make a political statement instinctively reaches for Aristophanes’ antiwar comedy, in which Lysistrata incites the women of Athens to go on a sex strike. If only writer-director Rory Leahy had had the sense to preserve the dignity of the original […]

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Henry Rollins

It’s hard to believe that the same Henry Rollins who declared that “sensitivity is for pussies” has spent the last few years as a solo performer detailing a set of neuroses thicker than his own neck, fussing about turning 40 and finding the right girl to settle down with. Maybe people are finally getting hip […]

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The Headphones Tour

DePaul University Theatre School alum Adam Simon and student Rob Cohn offer a novel approach to site-specific performance with this cheerful, whip-smart audio tour through the Chicago Cultural Center. As performers enact rituals of birth, marriage, and death in this landmark’s sleepy nooks and crannies, Simon and Cohn’s recorded narrative returns us to the building’s […]

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Letters/X

LETTERS/X, GroundUp Theatre, at the Hungry Brain. Cupid sends his arrow through lovers’ hearts–and right back out again in GroundUp Theatre’s breezy, cabaret-style “tribute” to Valentine’s Day, staged in a bar. Anthony Roberts’s script, created from a stack of real-life breakup notes collected by company members Sabrina Lloyd and Molly Neylan, zeroes in on cruel […]