Posted inArts & Culture

Azadeh Moaveni

You smile too much, an Iranian friend chastised California-born journalist Azadeh Moaveni shortly after she moved to Tehran in 2000. Despite the reforms of the “Khatami spring,” corrupt Islamic fundamentalists were still in charge, and ordinary Iranians knew better than to drop their guard. Since the 1979 revolution they’d taken to heart the lesson learned […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Guitar Wolf

Rock ‘n’ roll works so hard to be cool, but it has a dirty little secret–it’s actually about excessive, embarrassing, dorky passion. It’s the musical equivalent of costumed fanboys mobbing Star Trek extras like maenads, ripping them apart in an apotheosis of zitty ecstasy. Since 1987 this Japanese trio has been maniacally devoted to a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Pacific

Why this play got the nod from Steppenwolf escapes me. Andrew Case’s nonstory concerns a bereaved couple of considerable means, one of whom copes while the other doesn’t. In the course of a sibling’s visit to their palace by the sea, tensions are laid bare, hidden dynamics exposed, and the horrible secret is etc, etc. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Savina Yannatou

It’s no longer unusual for the musical styles of a particular region to get hijacked by people who didn’t grow up there, but it’s still rarely done well. Greek singer Savina Yannatou’s latest album, Sumiglia (ECM), features songs from Spain, Moldavia, Palestine, Italy, Armenia, Albania, Corsica, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and her homeland, but it never feels […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Cage

Playwright Jeremy Menekseoglu commits a crime against drama in this overwrought, unfocused new script. The audience never gets the opportunity to invest in the outcome by anticipating the action; instead we spend all our time and effort trying to fathom what the hell is happening. Menekseoglu himself plays the lead in this story about a […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Patty Red Pants

In Trista Baldwin’s Red Riding Hood-derived erotic allegory, Patty and her friend Becky grapple with their awakening sexuality while processing a peer’s murder in the woods. Baldwin’s snappy teen vernacular and winding poetic images allow Blackbird Productions’ expert cast–Lois Mathilda Atkins, Salena Hanrahan, and Wil Fleming as various manifestations of the wolf–to express the allure […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Careless Love

In the 1980s New Yorker Len Jenkin penned a series of dazzling plays–Limbo Tales, Dark Ride, American Notes–full of shady, marginalized characters bumbling through the fun house-mirrored halls of the imagination. His cheesy but menacing phantasmagorias dove into the darkest recesses of human love and obsession. But by this 1993 misfire, about an aspiring Christian […]

Posted inFilm

A Peck on the Cheek

A young Indian writer decides to adopt a Sri Lankan baby, but because the law prohibits single men from adopting, he also proposes marriage to a beautiful young woman from his village. Nine years later the couple decide to tell their adopted daughter the truth about her past, and the girl and her father journey […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

This concert celebrates Pierre Boulez’s 80th birthday with works he composed or was influenced by. The musical ideas in his slow-moving, hypnotic Rituel are carried by long sequences of instrumental and percussive gestures that are repeated with only subtle variations, evoking the ancient Japanese court music known as gagaku. It’s written for solo oboe, clarinet […]