• Saverio Truglia
  • Juan Francisco Villa tells his terrifying historia at the Yo Solo festival

According to the Reader‘s Tony Adler, it’s been “one hell of a summer for Latino theater in Chicago.” A case in point: the Yo Solo Festival of Latino Solo Shows. Four out of six of the works presented in this new joint venture from Collaboraction and Teatro Vista are don’t-miss affairs. The one-man and -woman performances range from the magic-realist romance of Sandra Delgado’s Para Graciela to the terrifying rage of Juan Francisco Villa’s Empanada for a Dream. Another bilingual winner reviewed this week is That’s Weird, Abuelita, a Latino-inflected version of Barrel of Monkeys’ long-running kids’ show, That’s Weird, Grandma. As with Grandma, BOM turns stories written by elementary school students into sketches—and the result is zany.

Though it tends to stick with paltry old English, Victory Gardens Theater’s third biennial Ignition Festival is still worth checking out. Five works by playwrights of color are offered in staged readings. One of the plays from the first Ignition Fest, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, went on to garner a Pulitzer Prize nomination. Time will tell if there are any diamonds in this year’s rough.

The sexual politics of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew can make modern audiences wince. But thanks to some smart cutting by the director and sparkling chemistry between the leads, Jack Helbig writes, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s outdoor touring production is funny, fast-paced, and awfully romantic.