• Anne Petersen
  • Fourteen of the “numberless” (including that guitarist in the corner) from Rise of the Numberless

The “pilot episode” of Maggie and Coco Save the World mimics the form of a sitcom but steers clear of the white-bread stereotypes of that genre. Keith Griffith recommends that you tune in next time—Coriolis Theater plans to stage a new installment every month.

Drawing on another facet of pop culture, Tympanic Theatre spins the ten tracks of Bruce Springsteen’s bleak 1982 album Nebraska into a gritty series of short plays, Deliver Us From Nowhere: Tales From Nebraska. It too earns a Reader rave.

Where Springsteen and Tympanic find pathos, White Trash Wedding and a Funeral finds hilarity. Its hero, a cussing septic tank “king” named Earl, leads a band of down-and-outs through a grotesquely funny trailer-park soap opera. Equally over the top: the burlesque comedy show Day Drinking and Sleep Eating, which fulfills its promise to “funny you until you can’t walk right” with songs like “Long Sex Is Overrated” and “Sluts for Sale.” Far more restrained but equally engaging is the Piven Theatre Workshop’s Encores: After the Theatre and Other Stories, in which three Anton Chekov stories are given minimalist, emotionally intense stagings. Director Joyce Piven uses the story-theater style originated here in Chicago by her mentor, Paul Sills.