Posted inArts & Culture

Cheddar Heads

Steven Young’s lame Wisconsin jokes are barely held together by his plots, one about an ice-fishing championship and the other about a young man being pursued by a relentless federal student loan officer (played by Kate DeVore with a brilliance that recalls Fargo). One of the fishing competitors is dead–and the play is equally inert. […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Perimeter

Plasticene’s set, sound design, and video projections are striking in this in-the-round physical-theater production, and its five committed performer-collaborators are full of energy. A Beckettian crossroads at the center of the space and what looks like a scaffolding for hanging create high stakes, and Abu Ghraib has made the subject–the relationship between colonizer and colonized, […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

After years of toiling in the contemporary music trenches, David Robertson is now a regular guest conductor with major symphony orchestras and next season will start as the Saint Louis Symphony’s music director. Musicians like working with him, and audiences appreciate his precision. This program of rarely heard early- to mid-20th-century pieces plays to his […]

Posted inNews & Politics

The Straight Dope

I read an article claiming that as weapon-control laws in England become ever tighter, the crime rate is increasing–that over the past 80 or so years the British government has enacted policies making it harder for individuals to carry any kind of weapon for self-defense, with the result, it was claimed, that you are now […]

Posted inArts & Culture


The Sirens, an all-female ensemble, aren’t quite as sharp as usual in their new long-form improv show. Beginning with a sketch created from references in a pop song, the six cast members create a series of scenes with recurring characters. The performers were at a disadvantage the night I attended because the audience was extremely […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Improvised Rock Opera

Baby Wants Candy–a tight troupe now famous for its improvised musicals–began about seven years ago as one of the dozens of ImprovOlympic teams formed every year. Somehow they’ve avoided the usual dissolution of such groups. More impressive, they’ve never experienced the artistic conservatism that paralyzes improvisers eager to “do it right”–and reap the reward, presumably, […]

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Robyn Hitchcock

Recorded mostly in a six-day session in Nashville earlier this year, Robyn Hitchcock’s latest album, Spooked (Yep Roc), pairs the former Soft Boys songsmith with alt-country couple Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Fittingly, it’s his most American-sounding effort–an acoustic collection of backwoods country, soothing gospel, and mountain soul that still manages to include references to […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Peter Case

Though he was a founding father of the 80s “unplugged” movement, Peter Case has avoided making self-consciously precious music by keeping his singer-songwriter instincts tethered to his rock ‘n’ roll past: in 1977 he opened for the Ramones as bassist for Bay Area punks the Nerves, and in the early 80s directed the Plimsouls’ merger […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Free Henry Goodbar, Telepath

James Moeller’s new play for the Black Forest Theater Company is a sloppy oddball collage featuring Howard Hughes, Richard Nixon, Guantanamo Bay political prisoners, and enough druggy ruminations on the nature of the mind and memory to make Carlos Castaneda weep. But embedded in its incoherent excesses are nuggets of sheer brilliance, particularly when Moeller […]