Posted inArts & Culture

Beck

Because Sea Change forgoes the cheeky postmodernism that has been his calling card since Mellow Gold, a lot of writers have decided that we’re finally getting a glimpse of the real Beck Hansen. If that’s true, he’s one ho-hum dude. Rolling Stone master of hyperbole David Fricke writes, “It’s the best album Beck has ever […]

Posted inNews & Politics

What About Casasloa?

What About Casasola? Dear Editors, While it may be easily conceded that from an artistic point of view, the photos produced by Sr. Alvarez Bravo are preeminent in the extensive body of Mexican photographic art, I would respectfully disagree with Mr. Fred Camper’s conclusion that Sr. Alvarez Bravo is “generally acknowledged to be Mexico’s most […]

Posted inMusic

The Visa Limbo

The Visa Limbo Last week, as the Bush administration redoubled its efforts to whip the nation into a war frenzy, Bahman Ghobadi’s Marooned in Iraq screened here as part of the Chicago International Film Festival. The Iranian director’s second feature is a searing critique of Saddam Hussein and his use of chemical weapons on Kurds–you’d […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Faust

The great F.W. Murnau directed only one real blockbuster in Germany, just before coming to America to make his masterpiece, Sunrise: extravagant in every sense, Faust (1926) is laden with exquisite references to Dutch, German, and Italian painting, and it was rivaled only by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis in driving the UFA studio toward bankruptcy. Like […]

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A Soldier’s Play

A Soldier’s Play, Congo Square Theatre Company, at the Theatre Building Chicago. Charles Fuller won the 1982 Pulitzer for A Soldier’s Play, set on an army base in Fort Neal, Louisiana, in 1944. Ostensibly a legal suspense drama, it examines black self-hatred. A black NCO, Sergeant Waters, is found shot to death in the Louisiana […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Hand That Holds the Pen

The Hand That Holds the Pen I found both The Beard of Avon, which I’ve seen, and Justin Hayford’s review [“The Easy Route,” October 11] troubling. The script has the Earl of Oxford state that it doesn’t matter who wrote the plays, and Mr. Hayford repeats this sentiment. Both are examples of collectivism, which robs […]

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The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow, North Lakeside Players. The subtitle of Percy MacKaye’s The Scarecrow fits perfectly: “A Tragedy of the Ludicrous.” Based on a Nathaniel Hawthorne story, MacKaye’s 93-year-old script takes the romantic horror of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, pours it into a social satire reminiscent of Gogol’s The Inspector General, and wraps that in old-style Yankee ethos […]

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Gorey Stories

Gorey Stories, Blindfaith Theatre, at Angel Island. What better season for a show based on stories by Edward Gorey, master of overcast skies and morbid mirth? Best known for The Gashlycrumb Tinies (26 letters, 26 quaintly gruesome child deaths) and the Mystery! series titles, author-illustrator Gorey offers the perfect example of metaphorical form: just as […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Michael Moschen

This brilliant artist is mime, musician, clown, and athlete–a stage illusionist whose magic is based entirely on his own physical skill. Just as Cirque du Soleil (for whom Moschen has staged routines) transformed the circus tradition into performance art, Moschen has reclaimed juggling from vaudeville corniness, reinventing it as exquisite visual theater. He doesn’t simply […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Flies

The Flies, Trap Door Theatre. It’s difficult to imagine how Jean-Paul Sartre produced meaningful work while living under Nazi occupation. But he not only wrote an epic play, he somehow got the German censor’s permission to produce it in Paris in 1943. In The Flies Sartre puts a decidedly antifascist spin on the Greek myth […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Sunday in the Park with George

Sunday In The Park With George, Chicago Shakespeare Theater. In the illuminating vest-pocket revivals that director Gary Griffin and musical director Thomas Murray have done of Pacific Overtures for Chicago Shakespeare Theater and My Fair Lady for Court Theatre, they dispensed with lavish design to focus instead on textual nuance. But this 1984 musical by […]

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Joffrey Ballet of Chicago

Kate’s change of heart in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew has always been a sticking point: how does the shrewish bitch become a loving wife? I was curious how choreographer John Cranko might approach the problem–and thrilled at the prospect of a flesh-and-blood ballet heroine instead of a sylph, ghost, swan, or waifish peasant […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Sad But True

The Secret Rapture Remy Bumppo at Victory Gardens Theater For evil to triumph, Edmund Burke said, it is necessary only for good men to do nothing. But David Hare’s view, as articulated in Remy Bumppo’s excellent production of The Secret Rapture, is that for evil to triumph it is necessary only for good people to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Franz Hautzinger

Like Boston’s Greg Kelley and Berlin’s Axel Dörner, Austria’s Franz Hautzinger is a trumpeter whose improvisations rarely, if ever, employ that instrument’s traditional tone. But with his formidable technique and close miking (placing the microphone in the bell of the trumpet to achieve distorted, supersaturated tone colors), Hautzinger might be the most extreme of the […]