Posted inArts & Culture

Dad’s Ham

DAD’S HAM, Trap Door Theatre. Catherine Sullivan is destined to become a great voice in the American avant-garde. But for now she’s holed up in Trap Door’s tiny theater, creating more thoughtful, aggravating, mysterious, entertaining moments in an hour than most companies can in a season. Dad’s Ham, which Sullivan wrote and directed, is a […]

Posted inMusic

Magnetic Fields

MAGNETIC FIELDS The Magnetic Fields’ albums are meticulously layered, but not in the way contemporary musical trends might lead you to expect. Rather than stirring in trip-hop beats or meandering passages played on vintage keyboards, leader Stephin Merritt dolls up his graceful, unforgettable melodies in a decade-hopping array of time-tested pop fashions. “You and Me […]

Posted inFilm

Anne Robertson’s diary films

Anne Robertson’s Diary Films Anne Robertson’s Super-8 films are at once engaging and troubling. In Apologies (1990) the filmmaker is seen in a variety of settings apologizing for everything from not editing the film more to her apologizing. At first this 17-minute film is somewhat amusing, but as it unfolds one goes from being irritated […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Praying for Sheetrock

PRAYING FOR SHEETROCK, Lifeline Theatre. The phrase “praying for Sheetrock” comes from one of the most moving passages in Melissa Fay Greene’s 1991 award-winning book about the struggle for civil rights in rural Georgia: a black woman who stood in ice to pack shrimp into cans for 20 cents a piece until she grew too […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bodies in Motion

Michelangelo and His Influence: Drawings From Windsor Castle at the Art Institute of Chicago, through June 22 By Geoffrey Bent An intimate art form can offer the most revealing approach to the titans of art. A bagatelle by Beethoven, a sonnet by Shakespeare–these smaller genres display their creators’ characteristic themes and processes but without the […]

Posted inMusic

Mark Engebretson

MARK ENGEBRETSON After the havoc modernists and postmodernists have wreaked on the human voice, most composers in their 20s and 30s have stayed away from the lyric art song. Now, however, there are signs of resurgent interest, like “Say a Prayer, but the Sea Wind Blows Them Out” (a tune for soprano, string quartet, and […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Shticking With Safety

The God of Isaac Victory Gardens Theater By Adam Langer The program for this revival of James Sherman’s 1985 comedy offers a glossary of “non-English” words and phrases for the Semitically challenged. Among these are such predictable entries as goyish, mazel tov, and shalom. But having seen The God of Isaac, about a young assimilated […]

Posted inFilm

The Quiet Room

The Quiet Room If your parents didn’t fight a lot when you were growing up, you might not get into this 1996 minimalist parable about a little girl who stops talking to hers. It takes a while to become engaged by the repetitious and simple narrative–at first things seem too obvious to be interesting. But […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories In the British elections in April the usual fringe parties were in evidence, such as the Black-Haired, Medium-Build Caucasian Party, but the longest-standing alternative, the Monster Raving Loony Party, ran the most candidates. Its main platform plank this year was a proposal to tow Britain 500 miles into the Mediterranean Sea in order […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Moving Toward Unity

Dance Theatre of Harlem at the Auditorium Theatre, May 9-11 Rites & Rituals Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago at the Shubert Theatre, May 15-18 By Joseph Houseal Since the inception of Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1968, the status of black people worldwide has changed, and so has the dance world. To think of DTH […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Long Way Home

Road Movie Great Jones Theatre Company and Starving Artists at Bailiwick Arts Center Viper’s Opium Great Jones Theatre Company and Starving Artists at Bailiwick Arts Center By Jack Helbig “Man is born to sorrow as the sparks fly upward.” The worst thing about this line from the Book of Job is that it’s true. Thrown […]