Friday, October 19, 2012

Arsonists, altruists, and assassins: new performing arts reviews

Posted By on 10.19.12 at 01:10 PM

Max Frisch's The Arsonists provides wicked political allegory but inert drama, argues Tony Adler. The Trap Door Theatre staging is sharp, and yet, with "nowhere to go, the show can't help but go nowhere." Conversely, the compelling theme of Night Over Erzinga—"the persistence of trauma through multiple generations"—is obscured by a digressive, kitchen-sink script. Adler recommends Two Lights Theatre's The Altruists, in which a talented cast and skilled codirectors bring out the witty ferocity of Nicky Silver's script.

Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins explores the dark underbelly of the American Dream, but Zac Thompson says Billy Pacholski's production lacks the irony to make it work. Michael Montenegro's puppet performance Fools Tango, on the other hand, effectively portrays loss, longing, and the "aching fragility of a beautiful moment."

According to Justin Hayford, Right Brain Project's Titus Andronicus is nervy but confusing, while Bailiwick's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is "[b]loody, bloody tedious."

Marissa Oberlander is thoroughly amused by Barrel of Monkeys's Chicago's Weird, Grandma, yet utterly repulsed by Ex-Pats Theatre's Fugitive Pieces: A Play with Songs. Keith Griffith finds Broken Glass wonderfully cast and immensely compelling. And Dan Jakes wants more from the Chicago Children's Theatre production of Harold and the Purple Crayon, directed by Sean Graney.

Dean Evans's one-man show Honeybuns is darkly funny if a bit too long for Laura Molzahn. Albert Williams figures that George Bernard Shaw's wit mitigates the contrivances in The Millionairess, offered in a concert-style reading by ShawChicago. Asher Klein suggests that Derek Shipman's One 'Man' Show: An Extravaganza of Childish Proportions needs time to mature. And Jack Helbig considers Strawdog Theatre Company's Pontypool riveting.

In Julia Thiel's opinion, the funny bits in Urlakis and Cusick's sketch comedy show Questionable Lullabies are compromised by a lack of momentum. Or at least that's how things went on opening night.

Laura Molzahn is impressed by Ayako Kato's ability to call upon unseen forces in Dear BACH—Goldberg Variations, part of her concert titled "Existencia Esencia." Molzahn comments that "Kato's dancing is so eloquent that it easily justifies her temerity in taking on Johann Sebastian's mathematically complex Goldberg Variations."

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