Posted inArts & Culture

Subtle Simon

BROADWAY BOUND at the Shubert Theatre The key to writing comedy, Stanley Jerome advises his younger brother Eugene in Broadway Bound, lies in two elements: desire and conflict. A character wants something; that desire puts him in conflict with other characters and/or circumstances; the result is comedy. The more believable it is, the better comedy […]

Posted inMusic

Roosevelt Sykes and the Honeydrippers–Raining in My Heart/Erwin Helfer–Chicago Piano

RAINING IN MY HEART Roosevelt Sykes and the Honeydrippers Delmark DL-642 CHICAGO PIANO Erwin Helfer Red Beans RB 010 Even in its heyday, the early 50s, the music popularly known as “Chicago blues”–traditional country blues laid over a citified rhythm section and augmented by amplified instruments–did not dominate the charts. Despite the monumental artistic achievements […]

Posted inFilm

No Niggers

SCHOOL DAZE **** (Masterpiece) Directed and written by Spike Lee With Larry Fishburne, Giancarlo Esposito, Tisha Campbell, and Kyme. It’s difficult at first to see what all the trouble is about. It’s so simple, really. Here’s Spike Lee following up the surprise success of his low-budget romantic comedy She’s Gotta Have It with something bigger […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Shiva House

THE SHIVA HOUSE The Synthetic Theatre at the New Lincoln Theatre In an interview with Chicago magazine’s Bob Daily, Nicholas Pennell–the Stratford Festival veteran guest-directing Macbeth at the Court Theatre–called Macbeth a “domestic play.” It may be that. But the inverse, unfortunately, isn’t also true: domestic plays are not all Macbeth. Not by a long […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Don Dixon

Like Nick Lowe, Don Dixon loves rock ‘n’ roll as a cultural expose: his music revels in, mocks, and genuinely celebrates the teen-associated romances and not-so-teenage sexploits (love that word) that make up the form’s colloquial vocabulary. This all comes off rather secondhand, of course, but in these post-fill-in-the-blank days, what doesn’t? Though I haven’t […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Prisoner of Art

SILENCE IS . . . Jeff Abell at N.A.M.E. Gallery March 11 “Silence Is . . .” marked an acknowledged departure for Jeff Abell. Instead of constructing his work around intelligently scripted and elaborately orchestrated language, his trademark method, Abell explored the evocative presence of silence in performance. This focus on watching silent activity rather […]

Posted inArts & Culture


It’s a rare event for a remake to improve on the original, and while this spiffy new version of Rudolph Mate’s 1949 film noir with Edmond O’Brien may not be an unqualified success–due to overstrenuous efforts to impress, and a hackneyed score–it manages to come dangerously close. A good deal of the plot and setting […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

STUFF AS DREAMS ARE MADE ON Goodman Theatre Studio Ordinarily, comparing a Shakespearean actor to a clown would be an insult, but I intend the highest praise when I say Fred Curchack is in the same league as Avner the Eccentric. Maybe the comparison comes to mind because I saw them both in the Goodman […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Feelies/Eleventh Dream Day

If this meeting of perpetually nervous, thinking guitar bands doesn’t turn into the best twin bill of the season, I promise to eat my entire collection of Velvet Underground albums. You might identify the Feelies as the cooler-than-cool group from the reunion scene in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild, the artistic pinnacle of North Jersey nerd […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Vampires

THE VAMPIRES Immediate Theatre Company Don’t let the title of The Vampires scare you–the play isn’t quite as dumb as it sounds. Harry Kondoleon has attempted to write a farce about people who have been supported by illusions that are now collapsing. As they tumble headlong into the snake pit of reality they scream and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Frogs/Seaviews

THE FROGS Pegasus Players SEAVIEWS Raven Theatre Company Well, you can’t fault this show for its dry humor, its refusal to make waves, or any lack of buoyancy, let alone chlorine. Written in 1974 for the Yale Rep and performed in that school’s Olympic-size swimming pool (Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver were in the original […]

Posted inNews & Politics

What Girl?

To the editors: Reading the [“First Person: A Waif at My Door”] story in the February 26 issue of Chicago Reader I was filled with horror and sadness by the way the kindness of people is exploited by clever individuals. But then as I read on to the end, I started wondering why the credibility […]