Posted inArts & Culture

Lalezar Ensemble

LALEZAR ENSEMBLE When Kemal Ataturk established modern Turkey in 1923, he sought to transform the Islamic country into a cosmopolitan, secular state–and so the centuries of brilliant court music produced during the Ottoman Empire days were written right out of the history books. Fortunately, Ataturk’s plan failed, but it took decades for the music to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Butley

BUTLEY, Writers’ Theatre Chicago. Simon Gray’s dark, witty portrait of a once brilliant English professor, Butley, now going to seed contains a trap for unwary directors: the first act is funny, the second is not. Going for laughs in the first hour will make Butley seem a fascinating if manipulative comic rogue. But then audiences […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Stories According to a February issue of New Scientist, an electric device manufactured by Medtronic that’s surgically implanted near the spine in sufferers of Parkinson’s disease to block pain also seems to produce female orgasms. Stuart Meloy, a doctor in North Carolina, heard one female patient’s distinctive moan; he had an inkling about a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Doug Lofstrom

Doug Lofstrom Like William Russo, his boss in the music department at Columbia College, Doug Lofstrom straddles too many categories to be easily classified: he plays the contrabass but has doubled on bamboo flute and percussion; he’s composed a clutch of string quartets and concertos within the confines of classical music, but as a performer […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Radio Hysteria

Radio Hysteria, Great Beast Theater, at Inner Town Pub. It’s hard to explain the continued allure of radio in our age of rapid technological advancement. Singer-songwriter Elvis Costello probably came closest in “Radio Radio”: as he put it, “Radio is a sound salvation.” It seems the AM/FM dial is like a patient-activated morphine drip, producing […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Rosenberg Creative Orchestra

ROSENBERG CREATIVE ORCHESTRA New-music ensembles tend toward the small side, which makes them easy to steer–even celebrated “big bands” like Peter Brötzmann’s Chicago Tentet rarely top a dozen. By comparison, Scott Rosenberg’s 25-piece Creative Orchestra, which makes its one and only appearance at this concert, looms as large as a transoceanic liner. On “Hums,” an […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE, Griffin Theatre Company. Simply duplicating Jay Ward’s animated series onstage might sound redundant, but sending up something so pervaded by irony would be sillier still. Adapter William Massolia ably echoes the TV show’s verbal style and narrative conventions, and director Richard A. Barletta bends his cast into appropriately two-dimensional […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

I’m a 21-year-old college guy. I used to be chubby and then, about a year ago, I hit the gym. Then I started having my sister dress me because I have no fashion sense. When the weight came off and muscles came on, women really started to notice me. Suddenly women couldn’t keep their hands […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Salto

This 1965 allegory by writer-director Tadeusz Konwicki, which hasn’t been shown in the U.S. for several decades, might be called terminally Polish, but that doesn’t prevent it from also suggesting at times Tennessee Williams (Orpheus Descending, filmed as The Fugitive Kind) and William Inge (Picnic). Perhaps the best reason for seeing it is actor Zbigniew […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Swedish Folk Tales

Swedish Folk Tales, Swedish American Museum. The original versions of fairy tales are usually darker than the Disney renderings, yet adapter-director Kate Hawley has not toned down the grimmer aspects of the six Swedish folktales in this family-oriented production. A magic fiddle forces people to dance until they die, trolls are intent on gobbling humans, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Short Sharp Shocks

Sketchbook ‘One CollaborAction Theatre Company at the Viaduct Theater By Kerry Reid CollaborAction Theatre Com-pany describes its second annual festival of short plays as “a progressive mixed-media theatrical bazaar.” That’s just the sort of verbiage that makes me fear a theatrical cocktail made up of one part incoherence and two parts pretension, served with a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Water Engine

Progress has seldom been presented as ironically as it is in David Mamet’s early, arch one-act. Here the Depression-fed hopes and dreams of Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition contrast with the sordid cautionary tale of Charles Lang, a maverick inventor whose water engine proves too great a threat to the titans of industry–who decide just […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Tobias Delius

TOBIAS DELIUS On two albums so far, the Amsterdam-based tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius has shown a preference for presenting his quartet’s repertoire in two- and three-song medleys. But he doesn’t seem to be doing it to make the material go down easier. As in other Dutch groups, such as the ICP Orchestra and the Clusone […]

Posted inMusic

Chamber Full of Soul

Chamber Full of Soul Chamber Strings leader Kevin Junior wasn’t the most obvious candidate to write and sing one of the best soul songs of the year. The pale, rail-thin singer still favors the same skintight black pants, frilly shirts, and Keef-ish hairdo he modeled as a glam-rock wannabe in the execrable Mystery Girls in […]