Posted inArts & Culture

Machinal

MACHINAL, Asylum Productions, at Chopin Theatre. Working-girl Helen is coerced into marrying the middle-aged Mr. Jones, whose touch she finds repugnant. A brief affair with an adventurer sparks her to dreams of liberation so intense that she murders her husband in a fit of rebellious passion. Sentenced to the electric chair, Helen wonders whether she […]

Posted inFilm

War of the Poses

*** OLEANNA (A must-see) Directed and written by David Mamet With William H. Macy and Debra Eisenstadt. David Mamet’s four features to date, none of them realistic, are all concerned to a greater or lesser extent with con games. Ultimately what one thinks of any of them has a lot to do with which side […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bother!

BOTHER!, Famous Door Theatre Company. Notwithstanding Dorothy Parker’s famous claim that she “fwowed up” reading them, the children’s poems and stories that A.A. Milne wrote in the mid-1920s have proven durable entertainment for grown-ups as well as kids. The adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his pals are clever, thoughtful satires of the absurdities of human behavior, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Writing Lessons

To the Editor: Bob Roth, the [former] publisher of the Reader, told me once, when I was reviewing, that a review is an art form; that many people read reviews for pleasure, not because they are looking for a consumer’s guide; and that a review should convey authority from the beginning. That’s good advice for […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Oui Be Negroes

OUI BE NEGROES, Underground Theatre Conspiracy, at Cafe Voltaire. I used to think Second City should pass out T-shirts with “It’s a White Thing” printed on the back. In Chicago, improv and even stand-up comedy are the stomping ground of the white middle and upper classes, with few exceptions. Which means that after a while […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Beau Jocque & the Zydeco Hi-Rollers

Having gigged professionally only since 1991, Beau Jocque reportedly has become the south Louisiana zydeco circuit’s biggest draw, besting such established names as Boozoo Chavis and Buckwheat Zydeco, all while demonstrating how to modernize a traditional style without sucking the soul out of it. As a melodist, he’s no Mozart, but he compensates for that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Boys of St. Vincent

This unforgettable two-part Canadian TV docudrama (1992) deals forcefully though not exploitatively with a very delicate subject–the sexual abuse and sadistic treatment of boys at a Catholic orphanage in Newfoundland by some of the religious brothers assigned to take care of them. Suggested by real-life events (and consequently held back from public broadcast while a […]

Posted inMusic

Hype Kills

Dear Editor: Guess I missed the mass-hypnotic joint when it was being passed around, but finally Peter Margasak has validated my feelings. Finally a rock critic worthy of worship (“Don’t Believe the Hype,” October 7), Peter, I bow down. Saving me a seat on the Veruca Salt Backlash Bus isn’t necessary. If I were Veruca […]

Posted inArts & Culture

I Love Psycho Mutant Kimberley! A Bittersweet Generation X Gay Love Story

I LOVE PSYCHO MUTANT KIMBERLEY!: A BITTERSWEET GENERATION X GAY LOVE STORY, Atomic Rapture Theatre Company, at Cafe Voltaire. It’s hard to imagine a freakier spectacle than newcomer Timothy James-O’Brien skulking his way through Atomic Rapture’s debut production, I Love Psycho Mutant Kimberley! When not rolling his eyes in grand melodramatic stares or hissing his […]

Posted inNews & Politics

No Joke

To the Editor, Our son was too embarrassed to see a psychiatrist. He thought drugs were a crutch. After many years of suffering from depression, he took his own life. How dare you print an article poking fun at this disease [“National Depression Day,” October 21]! Someone else’s son may read it and be ashamed […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Brat Race

THE BRAT RACE, Blue Light Theatre Company, at Chicago Dramatists Workshop. Terry Abrahamson’s musical about yuppie Chicago parents trying to get their preschoolers into private schools contains about 30 minutes of the funniest, most riotous satire I’ve seen this year. Another hour of it is bland filler. And the rest is so gross, inappropriate, and […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Less Than Perfect

Dear Sir or Ms.: In defense of the biological parents of Baby Richard, Bill Wyman called them “merely typical” in the weekly Calendar [October 7]. Oh? Let’s review. First mom told dad their baby was dead. Then she put their baby up for adoption. Then she lied to the court about dad. Then she kept […]