Posted inArts & Culture

The Sign of the Four

The Sign of the Four, Apple Tree Theatre. This new adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1890 Sherlock Holmes mystery is credited to “Dr. Shanghai Low”–the collective nom de plume of writers Steve Pickering (who also directs), Charlie Athanas, and Kevin Theis. Perhaps this explains the show’s divided intentions–part campy spoof, part straight-ahead thriller, part […]

Posted inMusic

Just Like All the Rest

Liz Phair Liz Phair (Capitol) The kindest thing I can say about Liz Phair’s eponymous new album–her first in nearly five years–is that it’s easy to forget. Produced primarily by the Matrix, the trio of former pop musicians (including a refugee from Haircut 100) responsible for Avril Lavigne’s hits, the disc’s relentlessly radio-friendly tracks are […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Shatterwhite Bliss

Shatterwhite Bliss, Twilight Sun Theatre Company, at Breadline Theatre Laboratory. An unbroken line of contentious dialogue runs through Apollo M. Weaver’s six playlets, but the disagreements all seem schematic, functional yet hardly worth 20 minutes apiece. I’ve got this self-mutilation thing, but hey, you drink too much; maybe I don’t eat enough, but hey, you […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Triple Goddess

Triple Goddess, Camenae Ensemble Theatre Company, at the Chase Cafe. The three McKeever sisters reunite at a remote summer cabin in order for smart Maura and matronly Althea to ease youngest sibling Kendra through methadone withdrawal. Althea has packed an emergency supply of the stuff in case the ordeal proves too excruciating. Maura has packed […]

Posted inArts & Culture

They Got Too Smart

They Got Too Smart, Mongoose Productions, at Frankie J’s on Broadway. Ed (Ernie Springer) spends his days watching a giant plasma television, paid for with three months’ rent money. His life is a wasteland. Unfortunately, he’s trapped in a production that’s also lost its way, with an incomprehensible plot and undeveloped flashes of insight into […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Reader to Reader

Behind her booth at the Custer Street fair in Evanston a potter had set three bushel baskets full of pots she’d marked down. “There’s nothing wrong with them,” she said. “I just need to make space.” Two boys, maybe seven or eight years old, walked up and started picking through the pots. Suddenly one of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Boom Chicago

Perhaps following the lead of our timid national news media, which seems incapable of independent thought, American comedy has become increasingly toothless, ill informed, and politically irrelevant. With a few notable exceptions (The Daily Show and about 25 percent of SNL’s Weekend Update), most comedy these days leans heavily on the same old sex jokes, […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Picking on Scabs/News Bites

Picking on Scabs A Tribune sales executive waiting to be airlifted to Baltimore this week asked not to be named and refused to discuss the mission. It’s possible a concern for reputation and personal safety made this volunteer bashful. Many an errand of mercy is mistaken by the natives for an invasion, and the arrival […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Cinematic Orchestra

The “astral jazz” of the early 70s has a lot to answer for, from the would-be cosmic meanderings of latter-day drum ‘n’ bass (4hero’s Two Pages, the bulk of Good Looking Records’ output) to the tepid “broken beat” of groups like Jazzanova. But Jason Swinscoe, the mastermind behind London downtempo troupe the Cinematic Orchestra, avoids […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Impotent Landscape

The curators of this engaging group show, Duncan MacKenzie and Shannon Stratton, argue that the “transcendent” visions of past landscape artists such as Turner are no longer possible in a world that’s been “stripmined, overdeveloped, amusementparked.” MacKenzie’s miniature sculpture Model for Communal Gathering is a patch of grass jammed with cars and people that has […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Frank Wess

Saxophonists who play two horns show up as often as the crosstown bus, but usually the second sax is the soprano. It’s rarer to find a reedist adept at the music’s traditional mainstays, tenor and alto, and rarer still to find a saxist who can swing with authority on both. Maybe it was a 50s […]

Posted inColumns & Opinion

Savage Love

I recently went on a business trip cross-country. While there, I spent a good deal of time with a female friend I’ve known for over eight years. In all that time, I’ve loved this woman. I’ve had girlfriends in that time, but no one very serious for very long. She’s always had a long-term boyfriend, […]