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Events Search – Closing (Theater and Galleries)

16 total results

Exit Strategy

7/30-8/29: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM

Having seen three Ike Holter plays so far, I'd say the hometown playwright has it in him to be a major deal in American theater. Of course, one of those plays was Hit the Wall, Holter's marvelous evocation of the 1969 Stonewall riot, so there's an element of the no-brainer in my assessment. But even his lesser efforts exhibit a sense of spoken language that's at once exuberant and surgically precise. This tale of a fictional Chicago high school on the verge of closing down is a perfect example. Especially as staged by Gus Menary for Jackalope Theatre, Exit Strategy expresses deep mourning and towering anger alongside lots and lots of casually witty banter. So what makes it a lesser effort? Terrible plotting, basically. Certain arguments come out of nowhere, contrived simply to give the impression that the ante's been upped. And the big last-minute revelation turns out to be a prosaic piece of information that the characters might've and should've known from the start—except that knowing it would've short-circuited the script. It's hard to stay annoyed, though, given that Holter's tactics yield opportunities for some solid work by a crack seven-member ensemble. —Tony Adler $15-$30

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

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Speakeasy

7/11-8/29: Fri 11 PM

Kiss Kiss Cabaret's 20s-themed show. $20, $15 in advance

Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336

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Hellish Half-Light

Through 8/30: Thu-Sat 8 PM

Many of Samuel Beckett's short plays aren't really plays at all. They're human behavior mechanisms—kinetic sculptures made of people and words, constructed to generate distilled visions of who we are and what we do. Director Jennifer Markowitz has assembled a solid half-dozen such mechanisms for this Mary-Arrchie Theatre production, ranging from a clever little joke like Catastrophe (a theater director berates his assistant while she manipulates an actor as if he were so many pipe cleaners) to a dark demonstration of political karma like What Where (a paranoid despot arrests her own thugs one by one until there's only one arrest left to be made) and the literally sculptural Play (three heads sit atop a pedestal and narrate their love triangle in counterpoint). The cast is generally strong, but Stephen Walker is exceptional, playing various characters in a naturalistic (yet often wiseass) style that, strangely enough, makes Beckett's abstractions work. —Tony Adler $25

Angel Island (map)
735 W. Sheridan Rd.
Lakeview
phone 773-871-0442
Hellish Half-Light

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10-4: The Truck Stop Plays

8/8-8/30: Thu-Sat 8 PM

None of the four plays that make up this bill feels finished. Each one feels rough, ill-formed, or incomplete in its own way. That is to be expected. These are one acts written by students at Ohio University's MFA program, and each writer has wisely allowed himself (all the writers are male; the directors are female) the creative freedom to take risks and "fail forward." This may be good for the writers in the long term. But the result is an evening of half-baked work, enlivened by moments of deep-dish Chicago-style acting. SarahJayne Ashenhurst and Elizabeth Birnkrant are particularly intense as an unlikely contract killer and her narcissistic client in Ryan Patrick Dolan's Burger King. —Jack Helbig $10

Chemically Imbalanced Theater (map)
1422 W. Irving Park Rd.
Wrigleyville
phone 773-865-7731

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To Catch a Redditor

8/8-8/30: Fri-Sat 8 PM

An examination of the characters behind the screen names on Reddit. $15, $10 with a Reddit profile

Public House Theatre (map)
3914 N. Clark St.
Lakeview
phone 800-650-6449

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Burlesque Is More

Through 8/30: Sat 10:30 PM

A comedic burlesque show. $20, $15 for students

Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693

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El Stories: Listen to the Music

6/21-8/30: Sat 11 PM

As I headed into the Waltzing Mechanics’ 16th collection of transit tales, a cast member asked if I had a good el story. I hastily described the time someone's bright-orange vomit ricocheted off a window and onto my shoulder. He asked a couple broad questions that elicited few additional details, then sent me into the theater. I suspect the folks who conduct the interviews to get material for El Stories proceed in a similar manner. Like previous incarnations I've seen, this late-night show consists mostly of fleeting incidents with hardly enough development to qualify as anecdotes, let alone stories, presented with unwavering earnest literalness. Each of the 15 pieces involves music, which can aggravate, captivate, or unify, as is made clear repeatedly throughout the hour. —Justin Hayford $20

http://waltzingmechanics.org
Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336

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Unbound(ed)

8/1-8/30

Juried show featuring work by encaustic artists. Reception Fri 8/1, 6-9 PM.

Morpho Gallery (map)
5216 N. Damen Ave.
Lincoln Square
phone 773-878-4255

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The Boxer

Through 8/31: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

Matt Lyle's silent play is called The Boxer, but its true hero is Velma, a plucky gal down on her luck, who gets work during the Great Depression by disguising herself (not always credibly) as a man. Thanks to a twist of fate and a well-timed punch, she finds herself training a boxer for a big fight. Then she falls in love with him. For their third collaboration with Pursuit Productions, director Kacie Smith and choreographer Ahmad Simmons have put together a show that feels like a lost Chaplin feature and is just as delightful. The actors—led by Amber Snyder and Eric Duhon as Velma and the Boxer—are at once goofy and graceful, Mike Evans's piano performance of his own score and Matt Wills's sound effects are witty and well-timed, and Craig Kidwell's light design cleverly recreates the look of a black-and-white film. —Aimee Levitt $20

Athenaeum Theatre (map)
2936 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-935-6860

The Qualms

Through 8/31: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat-Sun 3 and 7:30 PM

I once wrote a profile on Bruce Norris for Chicago magazine. This was about eight years ago—after he'd pissed people off with evil-minded satires like The Pain and the Itch, but before they anointed him with a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony for Clybourne Park. The profile (which, I have to say, is very good) examines Norris's perverse charm. He's quoted at one point saying that Steppenwolf Theatre artistic director Martha Lavey "has referred to me as a 'perseverator': I enjoy things that are hectoring and terrierlike [and] refuse to drop the topic. I've driven people away from dinner tables. If I get something stuck in my ass that I refuse to let go of, it's horrible—and yet it's thrilling for me to hammer someone. . . . To have them cave. Just to scourge them of their folly." Continue reading >> $20-$86

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Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theater (map)
1650 N. Halsted St.
Old Town
phone 312-335-1650
The Qualms

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Down Range

8/7-8/31: Thu-Sun 7:30 PM

Jeffrey Skinner’s award-winning poetry is lean, focused, and essential. Would that this 2009 play, making its Chicago premiere at Genesis Theatrical Productions, were the same. Skinner concocts several promising stories about career army buddies Frank and Doc and their long-suffering wives—then provides only a scene or two from each. So whether he’s trying to dramatize the plight of army wives stranded stateside or the addictive lure of live combat or the encroachment of workaday reality into youthful idealism, he sketches the highlights but lets little develop, making this nearly two-and-a-half-hour play feel largely aimless. The muddled chronology doesn’t help. Still, director Kay Martinovich’s mostly sterling cast injects impressive psychological nuance into the mix. As emotionally tortured Frank, Carl Herzog never hits a false note. —Justin Hayford $45

National Pastime Theater (map)
941 W. Lawrence Ave.
Uptown
phone 773-327-7077

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Home of the Gentry

8/14-8/31: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM

This new stage version of Ivan Turgenev's 1859 novel concerns middle-aged aristocrat Fyodor Lavretsky, who returns after a long absence to the country estate where he grew up. Estranged from his unfaithful, frivolous wife, the sensitive nobleman falls in love with his niece, Liza, a serious and deeply religious young woman he has known since her childhood. The potent and universal theme of midlife self-reflection comes through in writer-director Mike Brayndick's earnest adaptation, compensating for the stodgy pacing, cheap costumes, and sometimes amateurish acting in this On the Spot Theatre Company production. The show's greatest asset is Stephen Gawrit's sound design, which effectively merges Mikey Moran's original incidental music with classical selections that reinforce the story's setting (1840s Russia) as well as its emotional content. —Albert Williams $20

Greenhouse Theater Center (map)
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-404-7336

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Miles Away

8/25-8/31: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat-Sun 3 and 7:30 PM

Christine Whitley's 90-minute play feels more like a construct than a drama. First, there's the Lolita-meets-The Hustler conceit (slime bag discovers an underage pocket billiards prodigy, takes her on the road and into his bed), complete with fashionable gender flip. Then there's the pasted-together nature of the script itself. In the first section we meet Ron (the slime bag) and Sissy (the prodigy), whose continual bickering goes nowhere tediously and for a long time. In the second, a meeting with a would-be moneyman registers as a complete non sequitur. The third and final bit revisits issues that weren't effectively introduced in section one while taking an unintentionally silly last-minute turn toward the surreal. Director Scott Weinstein misses opportunities to improve matters, as does Josh Odor, whose Ron would be way more interesting if his weakness weren't quite so apparent from the start (and if he didn't drink such impossibly large amounts of vodka that you find yourself wondering why he doesn't fall down dead). —Tony Adler $20

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The Weirdos of Oz

Through 8/31: Sun 3 PM

Dorothy Gale's odyssey down the yellow brick road is told using hand puppets, a smattering of human performers, and a few instantly forgettable songs in this extremely loose adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The 50-minute show rushes through the familiar parts of the story, crowding them with jokey asides and anachronistic pop-culture references, a la Shrek. Other bits, mostly involving the Wicked Witch of the West and her repeated attempts to kill Dorothy and her friends, feel padded and tedious. Any sense of wonder or adventure is wholly absent. The production is clearly designed to be the sort of thing parents can enjoy along with their kids, but neither demographic seemed particularly amused at the performance I attended. —Zac Thompson $12, $8 for kids 12 and under

Annoyance Theatre (map)
851 W. Belmont
Lakeview
phone 773-697-9693
The Weirdos of Oz

The Size of the World

Through 9/1: Sat 3 PM, Sun-Mon 7 PM

We seem to be entering an absurd world at the start of Charles Evered's 1991 play. Or, at least, an absurd kitchen in Passaic, New Jersey. Setting the ground rules for her new boarder—a compulsively upbeat young man named Peter Hogancamp—Vivian Merkle explains that under no circumstances is he to inform her husband, Stan, that (a) Stan's blind and (b) Stan's beloved dog is dead. But odd as they are, Vivian's rules really aren't part of an absurdist strategy. They're just a bit of whimsy, indicating the extent to which denial has taken hold of the Merkles. The Size of the World turns out to be a conventional psychological drama in which the Merkles project their feelings for their alienated son onto Peter while Peter makes misguided efforts to work out his own familial traumas. Adam Goldstein's staging features one attention-getting performance (from Matt Edmonds as Peter) and one endearing one (from Mary Poole, channeling All in the Family's Edith Bunker as Vivian). Sandy Elias's vague turn as Stan, however, leaves a big hole in an already tone-challenged script. —Tony Adler $20, $15 for students and seniors

Redtwist Theatre (map)
1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Edgewater
phone 773-728-7529
The Size of the World

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