Posted inArts & Culture

The Waking of Annabel

The Waking of Annabel, Cafe Voltaire. There are probably a million ways to mess up a story as sweet and simple as the one Gabrielle Suzanne Kaplan (a Reader contributor) tells in The Waking of Annabel: three troubled people–a babbling mentally ill patient, a warm but doubt-filled social worker, and a professional but emotionally dead […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Imaginary Cartoons

Spencer Dormitzer at Space Gallery, through October 7 John Fraser at Roy Boyd Gallery, through October 17 Spencer Dormitzer’s startlingly goofy paintings–15 are on view at Space Gallery–are something of a surprise even today, when anything can be art. True, bright, pop colors, cartoonish imagery, and bizarre fantasy figures all made it into galleries years […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Misalliance

George Bernard Shaw’s proto-absurdist play was a flop in its 1910 premiere; but time has affirmed the strengths of this often very funny work. Set in a rambling country house, it starts out as a meandering romantic comedy full of the usual flirtations and follies: underwear magnate John Tarleton is planning for his daughter Hypatia’s […]

Posted inMusic

Metal Machine Music

Aphex Twin …I Care Because You Do (Sire) Autechre Amber (Wax Trax/TVT) Seefeel Succour (Warp) In urban clubs the beat is the thing, existing almost solely to provide a relentless groove for frenzied dancing. Its machine-made rhythms drive the body to unceasing movement, and the conflation of sweat, exhaustion, and claustrophobic sound induces a sort […]

Posted inNews & Politics

DeRogatis Defects to Rolling Stone/Back to the Chain Gang/Remembering Yuenger and Hanson/News Bites

DeRogatis Defects to Rolling Stone Ignore the troubling little signs of dissatisfaction. They aren’t significant. Ignore the paper flag Jim DeRogatis flew over his desk that said “This Place Sucks.” He didn’t mean the Place–the Great Enterprise that is the Chicago Sun-Times. He meant the place, the patch of carpet into which the features department […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Streb/Ringside

It ain’t pretty but it’s real” sort of sums up Elizabeth Streb’s aesthetic. Some say that what she does isn’t even dance, that it’s too purely athletic, too little emotional or intellectual. But if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like dance because you don’t know what it means, you may go for Streb’s […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Pvt. Wars

Oil Can Theatre, at Cafe Voltaire. Fusing the flippancy about mental illness in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest with the antiwar vaudeville of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, James McLure’s often comical 75-minute one-act throws together three disabled Vietnam soldiers in a military hospital. They’re very strange bedfellows, brought together only by the draft: simple Gately, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Bad Review

Depending on your point of view, turnabout is fair play or payback is a bitch. We critics tend to get the last word, but this weekend the Blue Rider turns the tables on us with The Bad Review, a two-evening coup de theatre featuring more than a dozen local artists performing excerpts from and interpretations […]

Posted inArts & Culture

T.J. Kirk

In describing the terrific debut album from this most inventive Berkeley-based quartet, you don’t know whether to start with its oddball name (there is no T.J. Kirk), its strange lineup–three guitars and drums–or its even wackier premise. Actually, it all runs together. The name of the band comes from the repertoire: T.J. Kirk’s self-titled debut […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Swans (re-mix)

Lawrence Steger visits Chicago stages with the brilliance and rarity of a comet. If you’re lucky you’ll catch sight of him once every few years, tearing through the postmodern vacuum of irony-laden autobiography, adding humor and pathos to a scene best known for its detached cynicism. But after years of quasi-confessional monologues Steger–like a comet […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

At least a dozen trucks and a hundred people converged on the street in front of Irvin C. Mollison School at 44th and King. Tree-trimming crews went to work, and about two dozen men exited trucks from the sheriff’s office and began sweeping the street and removing every bit of litter in sight. Over the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Beauty of the Double Helix

Valerie Beller at the Kay Garvey Gallery, through October 7 Johanna Yerby M.J. loftus at Nomad Central, September 7-10 When science makes discoveries about nature, word eventually gets back to art. When James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the double helical structure of DNA in 1953, suggesting for the first time how organic matter replicates […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mrs. Klein

Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, at Victory Gardens Studio Theater. There’s something disturbing about seeing Viennese psychologist Melanie Klein, one of the seminal figures of modern psychoanalytic theory, get the Mommie Dearest treatment in Nicholas Wright’s drama Mrs. Klein. What’s most troublesome about Wright’s play isn’t his unblinking portrayal of Klein as a smotheringly overbearing Jewish mother […]

Posted inMusic

The Age of Solti

Chicago Symphony Orchestra September 16 Conductors are renowned for their longevity. Many of them seem to come fully into their own at an age when other folk are ready to retire, and then flourish long after their contemporaries are languishing in nursing homes or dead. Even the licentious Leonard Bernstein, who almost seemed to have […]