• La Soiree

Our esteemed arts editor Tony Adler is off on vacation this week, but the reviews must go on, and Reader critics have plenty of performances to recommend. First there’s La Soiree, an astounding show that combines gravity-defying circus tricks with the comedy and sexiness of a burlesque. Then in The Vortex, a Noel Coward drama, a drug-addicted rich boy confronts his cheating, narcissistic mother. The show’s dark comedy and a great lead performance from actor Kaelan Strouse make it worth watching.

There are less-recommended dramas as well. WTC View, about a New Yorker who places an ad for his apartment with a view of the World Trade Center on September 10, 2001, is “plodding [and] urgency-free.” Kevin Theis certainly has a lot of fun as the scheming Richard III, and his devious asides to the audience are the star of the show, but the rest of the long and elaborate production flops. In Nickel History: The Nation of Heat at the Steppenwolf, actors and coauthors Tony Fitzpatrick and Stan Klein are accompanied by live jazz, video, and even a wandering a 1940s pinup girl. But they wander over too many topics and rarely hit an episode with psychological depth. Finally, in The American Plan, a scheming mother and a deceptive suitor gets in the way of love at a 1960s Catskills resort.