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Macbeth

Through 4/5: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

Shakespeare’s Scottish play is easily interpreted as one big war parade, all swords, banners, and drums. But in this Artistic Home production, director Scott Westerman drills deep into the tragedy’s seductive ooze—here the eye of newt sees more clearly than the eye of man. Welcome to postapocalyptic Macbeth, where freshwater is the ultimate bounty and polluted bogs mirror the larger pollution of the state. You listen before you look in this savage swamp world, which echoes of scraping knives and hushed cymbals. And the cast has a knack for keeping you there, notably Frank Nall as the vengeful Macduff and Maria Stephens as a subtle, biting Lady Macbeth. As Macbeth, John Mossman doesn’t shy away from the title character’s humor and likability—we root for him as we would a clueless action hero. Until, that is, the first dagger starts to float. —Chloe Riley $28-$32

The Artistic Home (map)
1376 W. Grand Ave.
West Town/Noble Square
phone 312-243-3963
Macbeth

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The Confessional

Through 3/1: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM

Jayson Akridge's procedural crime drama has its share of contrivances, expediencies, and implausibilities, but its dramatic core carries the day. Milquetoast schoolteacher Stanley confesses to a senseless murder that may never have happened, plunging Detective Bryce eyeballs-deep in a serial murder case he solved years ago—a success he believes was his greatest moral failing. Despite uneven plotting and an insupportable conclusion, Stanley and Bryce’s cat-and-mouse game raises confounding ethical and philosophical questions well worth two-plus hours of stage time. Director Sean Cowan’s admirably spare staging achieves greatness only rarely—notably when Jared Latore as Bryce unleashes a harrowing confession near the play’s end—but the no-nonsense five-person cast remain laser-focused on communicating the script’s essential truths. Fledgling Honest Theatre lives up to its name. —Justin Hayford pay what you can

http://honesttheatre.com
Collaboraction (map)
1579 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Wicker Park/Bucktown
phone 312-226-9633
The Confessional

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Dunsinane

2/26-3/22: Tue and Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Wed 1 and 7:30 PM, Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

The National Theatre of Scotland and Royal Shakespeare Company present Scottish playwright David Greig's imagined sequel to Shakespeare's Macbeth. $58-$88

Chicago Shakespeare Theater (map)
800 E. Grand Ave.
Other Central
phone 312-595-5600

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One Came Home

Through 4/5: Thu-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 4 and 8 PM, Sun 4 PM

Set in rural Wisconsin during the great passenger pigeon nesting of 1871 (memorable for having involved an estimated 136 million birds), this Lifeline Theatre adaptation of Amy Timberlake’s much-honored children’s novel centers on a 13-year-old tomboy called Georgie who refuses to believe that her older sister is dead, despite powerful evidence to the contrary, and sets out to find the truth. There’s something to be said for Lifeline’s refusal to sugarcoat Georgie: as played by Ashley Darger, she’s as obnoxious as only an adolescent who’s discovered morality can be. Trouble is, there’s no payoff for having to endure the little brat. Darger’s performance gives no indication of growth over the course of a poorly structured, loose-ended, overlong show that never justifies its central metaphor. –Tony Adler $40

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Lifeline Theatre (map)
6912 N. Glenwood Ave.
Rogers Park/West Rogers Park
phone 773-761-4477
One Came Home

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The Royale

Through 3/29: Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

Marco Ramirez's muscular, poetic 2013 play—a hypnotic riff on showmanship, exploitation and loyalty in Jim Crow America—stops just shy of brilliance. Through eloquent, stylized scenes punctuated with percussive claps, stomps, and guttural laughs, Ramirez follows the swaggering, deeply wounded Jay "the Sport" Jackson, a wildly popular Negro boxer circa 1905 who’ll stop at nothing to fight the (white) heavyweight champion of the world. Inspired by the saga of Jack Johnson, Ramirez’s terse, ruminative fantasy enmeshes Jackson in an intricate web of bravado, resentment, and self-preservation, where he faces consequences both life-changing and life-destroying. Director Jamie Castañeda’s uncompromising cast render most every moment haunting, harrowing, and human. While Ramirez’s thematically repetitive and conceptually muddled finale shortchanges everything that precedes it, the lead-up is thrilling. —Justin Hayford $48-$60

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American Theater Company (map)
1909 W. Byron St.
North Center
phone 773-409-4125

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Cineastas

2/26-3/1: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

Argentinian writer-director Mariano Pensotti's dark comedy about four eccentric filmmakers. In Spanish with subtitles. $28

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Sean Flannery

2/26-2/28: Thurs 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 8 and 10 PM

$20

Comedy Bar (map)
157 W. Ontario
River North
phone 773-387-8412

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Maz Jobrani

2/26-2/28: Thurs 8 PM, Fri 8 and 10:30 PM, Sat 8 and 10:30 PM

$38

Up Comedy Club (map)
230 W. North Ave.
Old Town
phone 312-337-3992

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Stripped

Thu 2/26-Sun 3/1: 7 PM

A collaborative performance between Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre and the Cambrians. $13.50-$20

Links Hall at Constellation (map)
3111 N. Western Avenue
Roscoe Village
phone 773-281-0824

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The Property

2/25-2/27: Wed-Thu 7 PM, Fri 1 PM

Lyric Opera presents the premiere of Wlad Marhulets's opera based on Rutu Modan's graphic novel about a family who travels to modern-day Warsaw to recover property lost during World War II. The performance is part of Lyric's "Memory and Reckoning" series. $20-$25

http://lyricopera.org

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18+
Chicago's Best Stand Up

2/27-2/28: Fri 8 and 10 PM, Sat 8 PM

An ever-changing lineup of local stand-ups. $17 plus two-drink minimum

Laugh Factory (map)
3175 N. Broadway St.
Lakeview
phone 773-327-3175

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Damn, Gina!

2/27-3/6: Fri 10:30 PM

A two-act musical revue. $14

iO Theater (map)
1501 N. Kingsbury
Wrigleyville

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Four

Through 3/28: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

As spare as its title, Christopher Shinn's 90-minute play gives us four souls doing their befuddled best to liberate themselves on Independence Day, 1996. Joe is a university professor from Hartford, Connecticut, taking advantage of a trip to Boston to hook up with June, a 16-year-old gay virgin he met online. Back home in Hartford, Joe's teenage daughter, Abigayle, slips away from her bedridden mom to hook up with her wannabe boyfriend, a basketball-playing wigger named Dexter. Sex is had, after a fashion, but the couples spend most of their time engaged in pained conversation, backing ever so reluctantly into what they mean to say. There may be a delicate Chekhovian comedy in there somewhere. But by confusing quiet desperation with solemn stasis, this Jackalope Theatre production never finds it. —Tony Adler $5-$20

Broadway Armory Park (map)
5917 N. Broadway St.
Edgewater
phone 312-742-7502
Four

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18+
Whitney Cummings

2/27-2/28: Fri 8 and 10:15 PM; Sat 7, 9:15, and 11 PM

$32 plus two-drink minimum

Chicago Improv (map)
5 Woodfield Rd.
Other Suburbs Northwest
phone 847-240-2001

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Red Bud

Through 2/28: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

Chicago playwright Brett Neveu excels at telling moving stories about inarticulate or emotionally stunted characters who face deep personal crises they can barely bring themselves to talk about. This time the tale he tells is set among a group of old buddies, each of whom is reckoning with the loss of his youth. Brand Russell's production for Signal Ensemble brings out the best in Neveu's drama: the performances are strong and subtle, and the pacing is just leisurely enough for us to feel the fear and quiet desperation that grips them all. Colby Sellers turns in a fine performance as a chronic loser who has yet to hit bottom, as does Sarah Gitenstein, playing a wife who finds herself the only adult—and a pregnant one at that—in a group of middle-aged boys. —Jack Helbig $23

Signal Ensemble Theatre (map)
1802 W. Berenice Ave.
Wrigleyville
phone 773-347-1350
Red Bud

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