Posted inArts & Culture

The Royal Hunt of the Sun

The Royal Hunt of the Sun, Journeymen, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. Playwright Peter Shaffer declared that his purpose in writing this tale, about Pizarro’s last journey to Peru, was to create “an experience that was entirely, and only, theatrical.” He succeeded, perhaps too well. But from this speculative saga Journeymen director Frank Pullen […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Miss Dinky

Good DJs know that the key to manipulating an audience is to work around a record, not straight through it. Alejandra Iglesias (aka Miss Dinky) eliminates the flash and sometimes spine of a track, extracts secondary melodies or bits of background noise and catapults them through the speakers, unexpectedly capturing the heart of a song […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Invitations to Meditation

Li Lin Lee: Barbie Meets the Talismans at Walsh, through October 11 Rodney Carswell: Square at Thomas McCormick, through October 19 While there are abstract painters who explore the possibilities of line, it would be a mistake to say that Mondrian’s or Barnett Newman’s paintings are “about” line: their effect is to transport the viewer, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

City File

Lawyers notice the creeping coup. From an American Bar Association task-force preliminary report issued August 8 on the treatment of U.S. citizens detained as “enemy combatants” ( “The Administration has not yet attempted to explain what procedures it believes should be required to assure that detentions are consistent with Due Process, American tradition, and international […]

Posted inArts & Culture


The popularity of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah rests in part on its conservative musical style: part Puccini, part Copland, and part Baptist hymn. But the continuing resonance of its major theme–the condemnation of the rush to judgment, urgent when Floyd wrote the libretto during the McCarthy era–is another important factor, as is the fervor with which […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Don Juan in Chicago

Don Juan in Chicago, TinFish Theatre. TinFish’s ambition exceeds its skill. This naive company can’t do justice to David Ives’s sophisticated meditation on the connection between love and immortality. Director Laurie Kladis pitches the entire show too high: when the lines are this witty, there’s no need to mug. The result is exhausting rather than […]

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Fritz Lang’s only film in CinemaScope (1955, 89 min.) is one of his most neglected features, at least in this country. (In France there’s a deluxe edition on DVD made especially for high school students.) A kind of 18th-century fairy tale about an orphan in Dorset (Jon Whiteley) who’s adopted, after a fashion, by a […]

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A Couple of Blaguards

Plenty of Irish writers, from James Joyce to Brendan Behan, have turned their miserable childhoods into great literature–or at least popular prose. But few have succeeded so well as the McCourt brothers, Frank and Malachy, who’ve told and retold the same stories in many different media. Malachy was the first to become a celebrity of […]

Posted inMusic

Playing With Themselves

Listening to the radio in rural Madison, West Virginia, in the late 40s, an eight-year-old Hasil Adkins heard the DJ credit some songs to Hank Williams and assumed the country great had played all the instruments. He tried to replicate those sounds with an old water bucket and other household objects, progressing to toy guitars […]

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An Element Never Forgets

An Element Never Forgets, Galileo Players, at Victory Gardens Theater. Chemistry was my least favorite subject in high school, which may have colored my opinion that there’s too much of it in this sketch-comedy show. But even the science geek I brought with me agreed that the Galileo Players were best when they poked fun […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Murderer on the Hill District

Murderer on the Hill District, ETA Creative Arts Foundation. Within the first 15 minutes of Rob Penny’s campy soap opera anyone can finger the perpetrator. After that, the fun you’ll have will depend on the liveliness of your fellow theatergoers. Like a 50s sci-fi second feature, this murder mystery cries out for audience participation. The […]

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The Devil’s Disciple

The Devil’s Disciple, Theo Ubique Theatre Company, at the Athenaeum Theatre. This is one of George Bernard Shaw’s least luminous offerings, an 1897 melodrama about two unlikely patriots–a pacifist preacher and a self-serving scoundrel–during the Revolutionary War. It begins as a warmed-over Washington Irving-Nathaniel Hawthorne pastiche but quickly slumps into Shaw’s usual mannered comedy. Still, […]

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Chris Potter

I make no secret of my belief in Chris Potter’s preeminence, not only among his generation of jazzmen but also in the long legendry of the music’s saxophonists. Potter echoes Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, and Wayne Shorter but he imitates none of them. On all his instruments, from soprano sax to bass clarinet, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Boomers Fizzle

Empty Stage Left Theatre Back in the so-called day, when Nixon was bombing Cambodia and I was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, my life in the antiwar movement consisted mainly of trying to avoid getting hit with a billy club. Usually that meant running, along with a lot of other demonstrators, through a […]

Posted inArts & Culture


Perpetua, BackStage Theatre Company, at the Cornelia Arts Building. Inventive movement, terrific ensemble work, and the affecting use of chants mark this original adaptation of the journal of an early Christian martyr. The second act also boasts some bright moments of levity: Perpetua has a vision of herself in a Roman arena that closely resembles […]