Posted inArts & Culture

Les Breastfeeders

If you need only one more reason to run to Canada and set your U.S. passport on fire, this Montreal band ought to do the trick. Its 2004 debut, Dejeuner sur l’herbe, tickles me more than any 60s-based rock I’ve heard since the Reigning Sound’s Too Much Guitar, and that’s some damn high praise. Les […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Endgame

Samuel Beckett famously peppered his dramas with bits borrowed from silent comedians and music hall clowns. The protagonists of Waiting for Godot are essentially a pair of baggy-pants vaudevillians, and the playwright once wrote, “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.” Still, it’s a dangerous choice to play Beckett for laughs, in part because his message–summarized in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Ninth Day

Like Costa-Gavras’s Amen. (2002), this German drama uses a true story to examine the Catholic church’s response to the Holocaust, but it focuses less on institutional politics than on personal conscience and responsibility. It’s based on the diary of Father Jean Bernard of Luxembourg, who spent four years in the “priest block” at Dachau for […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Lion King

This is kiddie theater with a vengeance. Eleven years after the cartoon feature came out, Julie Taymor’s Disney musical is still going strong–and with good reason. It doesn’t matter that the plot and characters are melodramatic, because what really carries the show for children of all ages is the stagecraft. And the stagecraft’s human proportions […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Bobby Conn & the Glass Gypsies, Baby Teeth

BOBBY CONN’s career doesn’t make much sense–except, perhaps, to Bobby Conn. Since the late 90s he’s routinely changed stage personas, transforming himself from an ex-con to a financial guru to a glammed-out conspiracy-obsessed Antichrist. When the world didn’t implode at the turn of the century like he predicted, he simply regrouped: now he’s an anti-Bush […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Human Oddities and Absurdities

There are two parts to this quirky hour-long performance, the first by Numbskull, the Human Blockhead, aka Fraser Coffeen and Jennifer Huffman. With her assistance he hammers nails into his nose and pins balloons to his forearms. It sounds gross, but with his showman’s flair for spectacle, Coffeen’s no-gimmicks carnival stunts are outrageous and funny. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chick Corea with Touchstone

Innovative pianist and influential composer Chick Corea has been responsible for a bewildering array of projects in his 40-year career. They include his acoustic trio and electric quintets, startling solo piano programs, a modified merengue band, the recent mainstream sextet Origin, and the original Return to Forever, the Brazilian-flavored group that introduced Flora Purim and […]

Posted inNews & Politics

News of the Weird

Lead Story In May the San Diego Union Tribune profiled Dennis Avner, a 46-year-old freelance computer technician in Guatay, California, who over the past 25 years has had his body extensively modified to resemble that of a tiger. He’s covered with tattooed stripes, his ears have been sharpened to points, and his teeth have been […]

Posted inArts & Culture

How I Learned to Drive

This production of Paula Vogel’s play, which uses shifting between gears as a metaphor, is stuck in neutral. As directed by Elizabeth Schwan-Rosenwald, 20% Theatre Company Chicago’s staging of a potentially intense story is too even in its pacing and performances to have much impact. The play revolves around a young woman, Li’l Bit, who […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Sam Rivers, Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio

For his most recent album, Purple Violets (Stunt), saxophonist SAM RIVERS is backed by players four and five decades his junior–and bassist Ben Street and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood work hard to keep up with the 81-year-old leader. Rivers doesn’t have anything left to prove; he preceded Wayne Shorter in the Miles Davis Quintet, recorded […]