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Beast on the Moon

Through 6/6: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

Michael Menendian's staging starts with a montage: photos, film, and news clippings depicting the 1915 genocide during which Muslim Turks murdered an estimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians by means that included crucifixion. It's essential viewing, both as an education in calculated savagery and as a preamble to Richard Kalinoski's drama about two survivors. Aram is a portrait photographer who hid while the rest of his family were beheaded; Seta is his "picture bride," whose mother was among the crucified. Married strangers, they struggle with trauma, their own and each other's. The plotting is pat and speeches strain for lyricism at times. But the ferocity of the performances goes a long way toward neutralizing all cliches. Matt Browning's Aram is one desperately messed-up refugee, while Sophia Menendian combines deep wounds with a powerful life force as Seta. —Tony Adler $15-$36

Raven Theatre (map)
6157 N. Clark St.
Edgewater
phone 773-338-2177
Beast on the Moon

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Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Through 6/21: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3:30 PM

Christopher Hampton's 1985 drama, based on a 1782 novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, concerns the cruel games of sexual intrigue played by two former lovers, Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil, who conspire to ruin other people's lives by seducing and then betraying them. AstonRep Theatre Company's production transplants the action from 18th-century France to Russia in 1916-'17, on the eve of revolution. But director Charlie Marie McGrath does little to suggest the turbulent era in which she's reset the story, other than giving sound designer/composer Clayton Horath an opportunity to play recordings of authentic Russian piano music as well as original material in a similar style. Nothing in McGrath's staging suggests the disconnect between the amoral aristocrats' frivolous obsessions and the social upheaval about to destroy their privileged world. But Hampton's script is compelling, and the ensemble is solid, with especially affecting performances coming from Ann Marie White and Tim Larson as two of Valmont and Merteuil's victims. —Albert Williams $20

http://astonrep.com
Raven Theatre (map)
6157 N. Clark St.
Edgewater
phone 773-338-2177

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Scissortail

Through 6/8: Sat 3 PM, Sun-Mon 7:30 PM

Two decades after his father was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing, 28-year-old Gavin is still having nightmares and obsessing over Timothy McVeigh. In this new drama by Isaiah Werner, Gavin’s sessions with a therapist are interspersed with dream sequences, the bomber’s remorseless monologues, and flashbacks showing Gavin’s happy home life in the days before his father’s death. Despite the earnest performances in Adapt Theatre Productions' staging, Werner’s script relies on therapeutic cliches, and director Aaron Henrickson hasn’t figured out how to move smoothly between the past, the present, and the surreal, separating them instead with momentum-sapping blackouts. The show owes what power it has to a lucky stroke of casting: Tyler Dickerson, who plays McVeigh, bears an uncanny resemblance to him. —Zac Thompson $20, $15 students and seniors

http://adapttheatre.com
Redtwist Theatre (map)
1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Edgewater
phone 773-728-7529

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Lunacy!

Through 6/20: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM; also Sun 6/14, 7:30 PM

Conspiracy theories never add up, but they do have their pleasures. Just so with Andrew Burden Swanson's "crypto-historical comedy," which plays on the surprisingly widespread notion that the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing was faked by NASA using cinematic sleight of hand. In Swanson's telling, the real-life mission has to be scrubbed because test rockets keep exploding. But the feds still need a propaganda win against the USSR, so they commandeer a British studio for a secret film shoot simulating history's first extraterrestrial walk. The world-premiere script needs lots of work (sloppy contrivances, a weak through line) and director Gus Menary works too hard at wackiness. Still, the cast deliver some solid moments—and not just the comic kind. Relationships among the studio crew members can be downright sweet. Malcolm Callan is great if not always well used as Stanley Kubrick. (Yes, Kubrick was in on it too.) —Tony Adler $15-$20

http://jackalopetheatre.org
Broadway Armory Park (map)
5917 N. Broadway St.
Edgewater
phone 312-742-7502
Lunacy!

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