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The Magic of Uncertainty

HAUPTMANN Victory Gardens Theater The Clarence Thomas hearings may have been unsatisfying as democratic process but they were riveting theater–and for precisely the same reason: we came to see that the man who would be justice was fundamentally unknowable. We could listen to him all day, and many of us did, never learning a single […]

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Sour Milk

SOUR MILK Skeleton Crew Theatre Company at Bailiwick Repertory In G. Riley Mills’s Sour Milk, two honeymooners break down in nowheresville, only to fall into the hands of a family of country-gothic loonies with dark secrets in their hearts and a largish collection of corpses under the rhubarb in the garden. What follows is an […]

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Selling Water

SELLING WATER Big Game Theater At the end of Selling Water, I left the theater only to be overtaken by a sudden doubt. What if it wasn’t over yet? I hung around outside for a while and thought it over. Most of the audience wasn’t leaving, but virtually all of them had the telltale friends-and-relations […]

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I, Figaro

I, FIGARO Curious Theatre Branch When we first see him on the narrow Curious Theatre stage, the immortal Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais sits with a towel over his face and his feet in a bowl of water, drunk, aging, exiled, reciting the recipe of a dish no one will cook for him, yelling for a […]

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Winner Takes Oil

WINNER TAKES OIL Second City Three notes on the state of American humor, inspired by an evening at Second City: (1) The gulf war was not funny. I know, I thought it was too. But it’s not. Winner Takes Oil plunges into the gulf at least four times, and the bits leave a weird aftertaste […]

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Peepshow

PEEPSHOW International Performance Studio at At the Gallery The neighborhood is a little down at the heels; the sign, red and tawdry; the lobby, luridly lit. So it’s no surprise that the cops showed up for an early performance of Peepshow. There were four of them, says the show’s producer, and they stood in the […]

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In the Realm of the Senseless

GOOSE AND TOMTOM Transient Theatre Superman, Batman, and Wonderwoman went into the woods and they went to the house where the pigs lived. They saw a wicked witch. She gave them poisoned food. Then they died. Then Wonderwoman had magic and they woke up. Everybody didn’t wake up. Then they woke up from Wonderwoman’s magic. […]

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The Real Thing

CORIOLANUS Next Theatre It’s easy to see how Coriolanus became one of the losers in the Shakespearean popularity contest. There’s no comic business, no memorable minor characters, and a noticeable shortage of memorable speeches. (In my copy of Bartlett’s, there’s about one column of quotations from Coriolanus, none of them truly familiar; there are 10 […]

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Richard’s Cork Leg

RICHARD’S CORK LEG Theatre of the Reconstruction Toward the end of Richard’s Cork Leg, Brendan Behan’s last play, a wounded revolutionary, a pair of prostitutes, and “a coloured gentleman,” the manager of the Dublin branch of Fair Lawn cemetery, sit boozing in the home of a lady named Mallarkey, as her daughter, Deirdre, plays an […]

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Marilyn and Marc

MARILYN AND MARC Shoeless Theatre Company at Victory Gardens Studio Theater Maybe it’s just me, but lately it seems like young writers have this eerily unanimous skill at writing Woody Allen shtick. You want nebbishes? They all do great nebbishes. Loopy sexual self-deprecation? In their sleep. Cutely psychotic Jewish relations? Hey, they’re on sale this […]

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The Little Prince

THE LITTLE PRINCE Touchstone Theatre Just 55 years ago next week, on December 29, 1935, a young French aviator in a single-engine plane took off on his way to Saigon. South and east he flew, past Tunis and Tripoli and Benghazi. Then, lost and searching for Cairo, he and his mechanic dipped beneath the clouds, […]

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Dearest Father

DEAREST FATHER Strawdog Theatre In November 1919, at the age of 36, Franz Kafka wrote his father a letter. “Dearest Father,” it begins, in Richard and Clara Winston’s translation. “You asked me recently why I maintain that I am afraid of you. As usual, I was unable to think of any answer to your question, […]