Posted inArts & Culture

By the Bog of Cats

BY THE BOG OF CATS, Irish Repertory of Chicago, at Victory Gardens Theater. The idea behind Irish playwright Marina Carr’s most recent work–an update of Euripides’ tragedy Medea to modern-day rural Ireland–sounds brilliant. Nearly 2,500 years after it was performed in Athens, the original is still riveting: a middle-aged woman turns murderous when her husband […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Short films by Jan Svanmajer, program two

This week Facets Multimedia Center presents a retrospective of shorts and features by Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer, whose work has profoundly influenced both pop culture and the avant-garde in Europe. This macabre program of seven shorts, made between 1979 and 1993, shows him at the height of his creative powers, using aggressive, intricate editing to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Nature Under Glass

Joan Lee: Ephemera at Contemporary Art Workshop, through June 16 Max Mohr: Pre-Nova at Vedanta, through June 16 By Fred Camper Last October Joan Lee was surprised by the first snowstorm of the season while standing on a hill in Vermont, an experience she found almost frightening. “Grasses and small shrubs around me, in the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Being Beautiful

BEING BEAUTIFUL, Chicago Theatre Company. Note: if you love a good drag queen, this new musical has four. Afton Cousins is a black sharecropper’s son who flees the farm for 1939 Chicago, where he’s transformed into cross-dressing cabaret star Aftrina by gay grande dame Miss Lonette and her protegees: tall, sassy African-American Ellen and petite […]

Posted inFilm

Nobody Here But Us

Last month I was taken aback by an E-mail from a colleague that said, “I thought, as an apparent defender of the Islamic Republic of Iran, that you should read this.” Before I accessed the link—an AP story about a woman stoned to death by court order for appearing in porn movies—I wrote back to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Mats Gustafsson & Paul Lovens

Mats Gustafsson & Paul Lovens On last year’s superb Xylophonen Virtuosen (Incus), a collection of improvised duets with guitarist Jim O’Rourke, Swedish reedist Mats Gustafsson counters his partner’s fractured acoustic fingerpicking with garrulous huffs, growls, and pops. This doesn’t sound too promising in theory, but it’s hard to argue with in practice: the contrasting approaches […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Does Illinois even have a legislature? Hardly, if you believe what former state representative James Nowlan, now at the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs, writes in Crain’s Chicago Business (April 23): “House committees…are a joke. There are now more than 40, and members trip over one another bustling from one meaningless […]

Posted inArts & Culture


CRIMINALITY, Keyhole Players, at Heartland Studio Theater. It starts like a police procedural: officers Bill and Tom pursue troubled teens Rick and Mark, who’ve killed someone while robbing a bank. Tom and Mark are hotheads, Bill and Rick smarter, cooler customers. But just when you think you know what’s coming, the script goes from hackneyed […]

Posted inMusic

Odd Fathers of Grunge

Melvins Electroretard (Man’s Ruin) Melvins Colossus of Destiny (Ipecac) Fifteen years ago a dusty blond punk rocker from Aberdeen, Washington, talked guitarist Buzz Osborne into letting him roadie for Osborne’s band, the Melvins. At that time they were an eccentric trio in a remote but vibrant local scene, clearly talented but not significant enough to […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

The recent item on your Web site about gentiles who have visited the holy places of the Mormons got me thinking. Have any non-Muslims ever visited Mecca, the holiest city of Islam, which is forbidden to infidels? –Curious in Diego Garcia Oh sure, lots. But one in particular stands out. Indeed, if we unbelievers had […]

Posted inArts & Culture


JUNE By Cara Jepsen 8 FRIDAY “I’ll be playing harp till my lips bleed,” says bluesman Mr. H about this weekend’s 48-hour Maxwell Street Blues Marathon. The event, now in its third year, is meant to draw attention to the fact that, while the city sponsors the annual Chicago Blues Festival (also this weekend), it […]