Posted inTheater Review

The price of exposure

In Viola Spolin’s seminal work Improvisation for the Theater, the very first exercise listed is named “exposure.” During this exercise, a group of actors are divided into halves and instructed to simply look at others and allow others to look at them. This deceptively difficult task often challenges new performers greatly; not only do they […]

Posted inTheater Review

Take shelter

In the Chicago premiere of Sarah Treem’s When We Were Young and Unafraid with AstonRep, a group of multitudinous women navigate domesticity, violence, and identity in a cultural landscape that both oppresses and empowers. Set in 1972, just before the Roe v. Wade decision and 22 years before the passage of the Violence Against Women […]

Posted inTheater Review

Babes with blades

Whether by design or happenstance, Writers Theatre has focused on the theme of women in competition and collaboration this season. In Eleanor Burgess’s Wife of a Salesman, two actors portraying Linda Loman and the “woman from Boston” in a contemporary riff on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman wonder why their characters in the play-within-the-play […]

Posted inTheater Review

The play about the baby

Reproductive rights cuts both ways: the government deciding that you may not have a child comes from the same authoritarianism that tells you that you must continue an unwanted pregnancy. Given current grim news about the impending SCOTUS decision overturning Roe v. Wade, that thought is unavoidable when viewing Zoe Kazan’s dystopian After the Blast.  […]

Posted inTheater Review

Living room absurdism

It may be difficult to comprehend today just how shocking Edward Albee’s drama Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was when it premiered in October 1962, the same week that the Cuban missile crisis began. While the atomic fireworks the world feared never happened, Albee’s three-act, three-hour-plus masterpiece detonated an explosion that rocked American culture to […]

Posted inMusic

London label Touch brings its 40th-anniversary celebration to the International Museum of Surgical Science

London-based Touch isn’t a record label in the traditional sense; it’s far more multifaceted. It might be more accurate to describe Touch as a collective that also extends into publishing, performance curation, and site-specific multimedia events driven by a loosely defined stable of international avant-garde electronic and sound artists, who include guitarist and producer Fennesz, […]

Posted inTheater Review

Reunion and regret

Like several post-pandemic shows in Chicago, the Artistic Home’s production of The Pavilion, written by Craig Wright and directed by Julian Hester, is about an intimate relationship between two people over time. It is also about the creation of the universe, being tethered to the past, and literally burning down sentimentality. High school sweethearts Peter […]

Posted inTheater Review

The bones of grief

Laura Schellhardt’s Digging Up Dessa was commissioned by the John F. Kennedy Center as part of its Theater for Young Audiences program in 2018. But this play, now in its Chicago premiere with Theatre Above the Law, is like a lot of great YA fiction—relevant to many audiences.  Digging Up Dessa Through 5/22: Fri-Sat 8 […]

Posted inTheater Review

People who need people

When everyone on the stage is excellent, it shows a director fully in command of the material. That’s the case with Cody Estle’s production of The Luckiest by Melissa Ross, receiving its Chicago premiere at the Raven Theatre. Plays about a young woman’s disability and impending death always risk straying into Love Story-style bathos, while […]

Posted inTheater Review

War cries

A wooden rowboat and plastic sheets lining two back walls are the only decorations for Sarah Tolan-Mee’s English-language adaptation of Heiner Müller’s 1982 cry-of-anguish riff on war, betrayal, and the messiness of identity. Using the Greek legends of Medea and Jason as a jumping-off point, this is a raging, poetic rant against tyranny and fate […]