Posted inArts & Culture

A Chicken and Its Breast

A Chicken and Its Breast, at Stray Dog Studios. With performance art, half the trick can be convincing the audience it’s not performance art, or at least convincing them they don’t know what’s going on. One way of doing that is to present your show as an obliquely theatrical look at the artist behind the […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour, Victory Gardens Theater. Joel Drake Johnson’s new play is a sensitively written, beautifully acted portrait of a fragmented family. Set in downstate Dixon, the action revolves around vain, crusty Mae Anne, a nursing-home patient whose main claim to fame is having once sung for hometown boy Ronald Reagan. Mae Anne’s […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicagostyle

Chicagostyle, Factory Theater, at Angel Island. In Factory Theater’s early days, the ensemble frequently staged sketch revues as a way of showcasing members’ writing and allowing them to recharge between full-length scripts. But compared to the company’s more ambitious projects during its mid-90s heyday, these shows seemed slapdash and insufficiently edited. The rough edges were […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Christopher O’Riley and Tokyo String Quartet

Like a growing number of younger classical players, pianist Christopher O’Riley comfortably straddles the fence between his metier and the pop realm. Trained at a conservatory, he has the requisite concertos and sonatas in his repertoire–namely works by late Romantics (Busoni, Tchaikovsky), modern Russians (Scriabin, Stravinsky, Prokofiev), and Americans (Gershwin). At Ravinia, where I first […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Doug Cocker

The elegant but spare sculptures of Doug Cocker, a resident of rural Scotland, are crafted of unstained wood without nails, screws, or glue and shaped to echo farm implements or natural scenes. The 16 pieces of Speaking in Tongues, part of the exhibit at the John David Mooney Foundation, include wooden plows and yokes; mirrored […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Martin & Orloff

Winner of the 2003 Christopher Wetzel Award for Independent Film Comedy, this madcap 2002 farce opens with corporate nebbish Martin (Ian Roberts) being released from the hospital after a suicide attempt (he cleans up the blood in his bathroom to a brassy rendition of “Put On a Happy Face”). His first therapy session is cut […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Journey’s End

Journey’s End, Seanachai Theatre Company, at Breadline Theatre. Settling in before Elizabeth Schuch’s lyrically dreary underground bunker, its ossified crud nestled beneath massive blackened planks that seem to groan under tons of earth, one fact is immediately apparent: few plays could live up to this magnificent set. R.C. Sherriff’s unwaveringly adequate World War I drama […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Three Enchanted Evenings

When Across a Crowded Room–a roundup of music by Richard Rodgers–played in Chicago last summer, Reader critic Neil Tesser noted a paradox that made the show especially welcome: Rodgers’s versatility contributed to his relative obscurity. His centennial last year spurred new interest in the composer, but before that he “seldom topped anyone’s list in discussions […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Paper Dreams and Plastic Promises

Paper Dreams and Plastic Promises, Sandbox Theatre Project, at the Athenaeum Theatre. Let’s make a rule. Let’s say that college theater majors may not make professional use of material developed in class for at least five years after graduation. No, seven. That way, they’ll have some time to consider whether the world really needs to […]

Posted inNews & Politics

TRG Music Listings

Rock, Pop, Etc. Concerts AC ROCK Thu 6/19, 7 PM, Petty Auditorium, Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton, Skokie. 847-673-7774. A.D.D., DIGITAL KILL, FETOR, VIBE, NIX perform as part of the Music With Meaning Series. Fri 6/20, 6 PM, Pilgrim Church, 460 Lake, Oak Park. 708-848-5860. AMERICAN ENGLISH Beatles tribute. Fri 6/20, 6 PM, Millennium Plaza, […]

Posted inMusic

Lucinda Williams

Counting the recent World Without Tears (Lost Highway), Lucinda Williams has put out three records in the past five years–that’s as many as she made in the 18 years preceding 1998’s flawless Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Steady touring, increased popularity, and critical acclaim have surely helped ease some of the business hassles that […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Prince Paul, Aceyalone

Aceyalone was a founding member of the Freestyle Fellowship, a group that countered gangsta culture with jazzy beats and abstract rhymes in the early 90s. He released a couple solo discs later that decade; they seemed groundbreaking at the time but now sound unnecessarily cryptic and subdued. But by 2001, when he released Accepted Eclectic, […]