Posted inArts & Culture

Feiffer’s America

FEIFFER’S AMERICA Northlight Theatre Anyone setting out to adapt the work of cartoonist Jules Feiffer to a live theatrical format faces several problems right off the bat. First, there’s the obvious fact that no live actor could ever capture the unique visual vitality of Feiffer’s inimitable drawings; even cartoon animation would fall short. The strength […]

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The Ties That Hide

PASSING ON Blue Rider Theater For the past few weeks I’ve been on a death watch as a close relative fades away, and the experience has reminded me once again that death is seldom a private affair. Family members and friends gathered around the dying person react like an organism in distress. First there’s the […]

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On Stage: French farce in a paisley shirt

Madness, impotence, adultery, prostitution, alcoholism, and sadomasochism are all ingredients for a light comedy in the hands of Georges Feydeau. Writing for the bourgeoisie in turn-of-the-century Paris, Feydeau (1862-1921) served up dizzyingly funny bedroom farces that teased his audiences while ultimately reassuring them. In his 1907 La puce a l’oreille–known in English as A Flea […]

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Screaming Blue Messiahs

The production was all wrong on this English trio’s first album and the songwriting is off on their second, but tonight that’s almost irrelevant because onstage this group’s songs become secondary to their sound. Over the fast-paced primal throb of some heavy bass and drums, the big, bald, and blue-suited lead singer/guitarist, Bill Carter, throws […]

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Bill Frisell, Ikue Mori, Jim Staley

No matter what I tell you, and probably even if you’ve heard their recorded collaboration (which makes up one-fourth of the double-LP Mumbo Jumbo on the entirely obscure Rift label)–whatever your preparation–you’re bound to be surprised. Frisell plays guitar and electronics, Mori is a drummer and composer, and Staley, who conceived the project, stretches the […]

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Johnny Griffin/Joe Henderson

Oh, it may look like your classic Chicago tenor battle, this annual pairing of saxists, Johnny Griffin and Joe Henderson (each of whom looms among the most respected tenor men of his musical generation)–but it’s not. Instead, this annual event shoves musical pugilism aside in favor of showcasing these two powerful musical intellects, and in […]

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Ourselves Alone

OURSELVES ALONE Bailiwick Repertory It’s easy enough to see where Anne Devlin’s Ourselves Alone is going. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty easy to see it’ll never get there. Set in Belfast, at the troubled heart of the Troubles, Devlin’s play offers a critique of revolutionary macho. It wants to show how desperate men, like those who […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

Enclosed for your enjoyment is a bottle of “Doctor Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Soap,” which you can get at any health food store. The soap is great, but you’ll note the label is crammed with weird religious ravings. What’s the poop, Scoop? Is Doctor B. really a “master chemist and Essene rabbi”? What’s the story […]

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A Joy Forever

A JOY FOREVER Victory Gardens Studio Theater Some shows produce the opposite result from the one intended. Frank Manley’s A Joy Forever is one instance: meant to celebrate resilience and grit, it is instead a talky case history of loonies in the boonies. In this supposedly heartening 90-minute portrait of four timid backwater Georgia women, […]

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The City File

Leeches are back, according to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where they are used to help wounds drain. Says the center, “The leeches are economical (about $6 apiece) and easy to apply (they feed for 20 to 40 minutes then drop off).” Best of all, “They leave a bite mark that looks like the […]

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Lady in White

Ray Bradbury appears to be the presiding influence over this nostalgic fantasy-thriller about childhood and ghosts, written, directed, produced, and scored by Frank LaLoggia (Fear No Evil). Set in a small town in the early 60s, the plot centers on an apparition of a little girl seen by the ten-year-old hero (Lukas Haas) while locked […]