Posted inArts & Culture

Pride and Prejudice

This adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel is as strong and pretty as bone china: the stage’s artificiality suits the somewhat dusty story while its immediacy brings home the characters and Austen’s ethical conundrums. Adapters James Maxwell and Alan Stanford cherry-pick Austen’s best lines, which makes the play hilarious if occasionally schematic. But the acting […]

Posted inNews & Politics

Who’s Debra Pickett?

So who do you think would win in a fight between Liz Armstrong [Chicago Antisocial] and Debra Pickett? I know you’re probably going to say Armstrong, but consider the following: Heightwise, I figure they’re about equal, four-foot-nine in stocking feet; but Liz in her four-inch spikes will have it over Deb in her flip-flops. On […]

Posted inArts & Culture

The Woods

First performed in 1977, this David Mamet play appeared at about the same time as American Buffalo. But it’s slight by comparison: softer, more conventional, more contrived–the work of an artist not yet ready not to sound like his contemporaries. Still, the tale of a young couple’s troubled holiday is unmistakably Mamet-ian in its view […]

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Monsieur Chopin

Hershey Felder, who wrote and performed the one-man hit George Gershwin Alone, mines similar territory in this solo show: he recites Chopin’s biography in the first person while playing some of the composer’s signature pieces. It’s a pleasant evening, cleanly directed by Joel Zwick, though Felder’s acting–which ranges from distant to cloyingly sentimental–gives the experience […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Washington Social Club

Lots of indie-pop acts can come up with good hooks, so the reasons for preferring one band over another are often matters of stuff like presentation, delivery, sensibility, and style. It’s a game of fine lines, and all I can tell you is that the Washington Social Club’s songs repeatedly land on my side of […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Del McCoury Band

In the last few years bluegrass veteran Del McCoury has found an enthusiastic new audience among the citizens of the jam-band nation. I’m not surprised: with prog-grass bands like Leftover Salmon and the String Cheese Incident proliferating like so many weeds, those listeners have got to be hungry for a musician who knows that hot-shit […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Denis Colin Trio

No nation outside the U.S. has a longer jazz history than France, home to Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, Europe’s first bona fide jazzmen. It’s been a continuing source of major artists ever since then, from Jean-Luc Ponty in the 60s to Michel Petrucciani in the 80s to Jean-Michel Pilc in this decade. You can […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Wheatley

Lonnie Carter’s new choreopoem is a fantasia on the life and work of Phillis Wheatley, a colonial-era slave who became the first published African-American poet. Carter shrinks from dramatizing the most important aspect of Wheatley’s life: her struggle to prove to Boston’s skeptical white male leaders that she was, in fact, the author of her […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Major Barbara

Even in a staged reading ShawChicago does a great job of giving lively personalities to George Bernard Shaw’s rich characters. Alyson Green brims with idealistic hope and conviction as Major Barbara, a woman bent on saving souls via the Salvation Army. As her tough-minded mother, Kate Young is a force of nature and Shavian wit, […]

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Tobias Delius 4Tet

One of the leading figures in Amsterdam’s dynamic jazz scene, Tobias Delius happens to be a terrific clarinetist, but it’s the way he plays tenor saxophone that really makes me jump: he combines the breathy, low-register sensuality of Ben Webster, the terse, jagged phrasing of Archie Shepp, and the full-bodied agility of Sonny Rollins in […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Matt Pond PA

Several Arrows Later (Altitude) finds the Brooklyn-based group Matt Pond PA tweaking their chamber pop toward perfection, for better or worse. Of their previous eight releases, the EPs showcase them best, as the brevity affords their somber sentiments the luxury of lingering a little longer and sinking in a little deeper. At first listen there […]