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Theater & Performance Next 30 Days

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Dutchman

Tue 9/16-Sun 9/21: 11 PM
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Seven years ago Rashid Johnson went with a couple friends to see a revival of LeRoi Jones's Dutchman at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Manhattan—the same theater where the play premiered in 1964. One of those friends was the photographer Nan Goldin. Continue reading >>

This is one of our Fall Arts Best Bets for Theater.

$45

http://performa-arts.org
Red Square (map)
1914 W. Division St.
Wicker Park/Bucktown
phone 773-227-2284
Dutchman

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Who is Tyler Durden?

8/29-9/20: Thu-Sat 8 PM

Bare Knuckle Productions examines the life of the Fight Club alter ego. $15-$20

http://bareknuckleproductions.org
Prop Thtr (map)
3502 N. Elston Ave.
Avondale
phone 773-539-7838

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Witch Slap

8/16-9/20: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3:30 PM

It's hard to understand exactly what Babes With Blades, a group whose mission is to feature strong female roles, saw in Jeff Goode's new play Witch Slap!, a show where barely one-dimensional witches fail at magic as often as they forget their motivation. Goode—probably best known for his licentious Reindeer Monologues—here gives us a sloppy farce that never really amuses and can't seem to decide whose team it's on: thieving men or conniving women. Maureen Yasko's "violence design" is well plotted, but lost in a set that feels more like a Hobby Lobby discount bin. And while Kimberly Logan plays it cool as the Crone, not even the wizardry of a subtle performance can poof this show into something worth watching. —Chloe Riley $20

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

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Cirque Shanghai: Warriors

5/21-9/21: Wed and Sat 2, 6, and 8 PM; Thu 2 and 8 PM; Fri 2, 7, and 9 PM, Sun 2 and 4 PM

Every year this troupe of energetic Asian acrobats, contortionists, and martial artists comes to Chicago and delivers essentially the same show under a new name (and in new costumes). It hardly matters—the acts still thrill, the production still dazzles. The show does seem a little more amped up this year, packing a lot into a mere 70 minutes. In fact, if you let your mind wander for even a couple seconds, you're likely to miss something spectacular. And when it's all over, you may well find yourself hungry for more. They may call themselves warriors, but really these troupers are showbiz to the core. —Jack Helbig $19.50- $39.50

Navy Pier (map)
600 E. Grand Ave.
Near North
phone 312-595-7437

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

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The Last Cadillac

Through 9/21: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

There are plays that nosedive—but maybe wouldn't—with more tweaking and a better sense of where they're going and how the heck they’re getting there. The Last Cadillac, from playwright Reginald Edmund, is such a show. Set in a Houston auto garage, the play follows Isaac (Jamarr Tillman), who's searching the body shop for answers about his past. He runs into Big Daddy (the fiery Arch Harmon) and together, with aid from some ancient gods, the two continue the identity hunt. With Cadillac, Edmund has a case of the Stephen Kings—he's at his best when he trusts his gruff, reality-rooted characters, less so when he allows mythical spooks to steal the action. Poor sound design and indulgent acting from Tillman don't aid the cause. But the play is by no means without merit. There's substance there and Big Daddy is the key. His wants and fears—instead of that darn Cadillac —should be the ones driving the show. —Chloe Riley $22, $17 for students and seniors

http://americandemigods.com
Athenaeum Theatre (map)
2936 N. Southport Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-935-6860

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Since I Suppose

8/28-9/21: Wed-Sat, times vary

The first time Chicago Shakespeare Theater brought them to town, in 2011, Australia's One Step at a Time Like This gave us En Route—a 90-minute theatrical walkabout that used personal tech (earphones, cell, an MP3 player) to lead audiences of one on a witty, revelatory excursion through downtown Chicago. The revelation wasn't particular. Sure, participants discovered what might be called clues: messages in alleys, bits of clothing draped on chairs. But those finds didn't advance a plot, disclose a secret, or trigger a crisis. Instead they invited us to a wider awareness than we usually permit ourselves. "Somewhere along the line," I wrote at the time, "the soundtrack, the changes of scene, the instructions, the indeterminacy of it all combined to tear me loose from my intentions and allow me to do the sort of seeing that starts with a willingness to tell yourself you've got nowhere else to be and nothing you need to do. I temporarily forgot to want anything." Now One Step is back, with an experience that's at once the same and very different. Continue reading >> $45-$75

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

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Macbeth

Sat 9/13, Wed 9/17, and Fri 9/19, 7:30 PM; Sun 9/21, 3 PM

Chicago Opera Theater presents Ernest Bloch's little-seen take on the Shakespeare classic. $35-$125

http://chicagooperatheater.org
Harris Theater for Music and Dance (map)
205 E. Randolph St.
Loop
phone 312-334-7777

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Stupid Fucking Bird

Through 9/21: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

This update of The Seagull announces itself at the very start, when Katy Carolina Collins, playing Masha (she who wears black because she's in mourning for her life), breaks the fourth wall with a mopey-cute love song picked out on a ukulele. Playwright Aaron Posner and Sideshow Theatre Company take an anachronistic, ostentatiously metatheatrical approach to Chekhov's 1896 black comedy about moneyed artsy types who go looking for love in precisely the wrong places. The conceit can get infuriatingly coy, as when Nate Wheldon's Conrad (Constantin in the original) puts the audience through the empty and condescending exercise of asking us how he can get his longtime crush, Nina, to love him. But director Jonathan L. Green and cast deliver an engaging show despite the choose-your-own-adventure gimmickry, by means of a strong ensemble performance. Though Collins's Masha is especially vivid, as are Nina O'Keefe's Nina and Norm Woodel in the role of aging Uncle Sorn, everyone onstage weaves beautifully, painfully into everyone else. —Tony Adler $20-$25

Victory Gardens Theater (map)
2433 N. Lincoln Ave.
Lincoln Park
phone 773-871-3000
Stupid Fucking Bird

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Into Hell: The Oregon Trail

Through 9/21: Sun 8:30 PM

It is an unspoken rule that any respectable parody of 80s computer game The Oregon Trail must contain bouts of hunting, at least one broken wagon-wheel axle, and above all else, dysentery. While Into Hell: The Oregon Trail pays homage to that trinity, the classic computer fun takes a backseat to writer Chip Bagnall's vision for the show, which includes a peyote trip, a ten-minute farting sequence, and a too-oft-repeated gag around "ford or float" (another mainstay of the game squandered here). Bagnall, a former history major and current improviser who also stars in this one-man show, would benefit from having other humans to play with. Instead we watch him interact solely with a collection of stuffed dolls, which are supposed to be his daughters but end up being just creepy. —Chloe Riley $12, $8 for students

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

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A Night Out

Through 9/22: Sun-Mon 7:30 PM

Originally written for television, this early Harold Pinter work depicts an uncharacteristically eventful night in the life of mopey, middling Albert Stokes. After a humiliating incident at an office party, he turns violently on his overbearing mother and, eventually, a chatty prostitute. Though not as lean as Pinter's best work, the play nevertheless illustrates his knack for making ordinary talk seem somehow strange and threatening. It requires precision and focus, but the script gets neither in the hands of director Dado, who turns the central party scene into shrill chaos. She further distracts from the dialogue by adding surreal touches like hallucinatory dance numbers and ghostly figures in masks. The show's sole bright spot is Maria Stephens's tense yet vulnerable performance as the motormouth prostitute. —Zac Thompson $10

A Red Orchid Theatre (map)
1531 N. Wells St.
Old Town
phone 312-943-8722

Evil Dead: The Musical

9/23-10/12: Tue-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 7 and 10:30 PM, Sun 3 PM
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All Sam Raimi's horror-film series really needed to shine a little bit brighter was some song and dance. Luckily for us, someone jazzed up the cult horror classic (with blessings from Raimi and Bruce Campbell). $29.99-$67.99

Buy from Ticketmaster
Broadway Playhouse (map)
175 E. Chestnut St.
Gold Coast/Mag Mile/Streeterville
phone 800-775-2000
Evil Dead: The Musical

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Smokefall

Through 10/6

When Noah Haidle's Smokefall premiered at the Goodman last year, Reader critic Tony Adler called the production "ambitious," "goofy," and "very fine," and subsequently he gave it a nod in our Best of Chicago issue, deeming Mike Nussbaum's turn in the drama Best Performance by an 89-year-old (and One of the Better Ones by Anyone of Any Age). Exactly one year later, the show—with Nussbaum, now 90—returns, so you can see what all the fuss is about. $25-$81

Buy Tickets
Goodman Theatre (map)
170 N. Dearborn St.
Loop
phone 312-443-3800

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Out of Your Mind

Through 9/25: Thu 10 PM
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In today's overexposed, uncensored digital age, the mysteries of mind reading continue to amaze. Especially when they're coupled with improv and presented at an hour when most of the audience is probably inebriated. ComedySportz ensemble member Eric Lindberg's comedic brand of mentalism is entertaining and genuinely impressive, with heavy participation from attendees. Tricks run the gamut from reading names or cards to offering proofs of mind control such as a premade CD with a song picked at random by an audience member. What could use some tweaking are the setup, pacing, and chitchat between bits; on the night I attended, Lindberg's divorced parents, in the audience, became victims of some particularly awkward banter during a test of their mental communication. —Marissa Oberlander $10

ComedySportz Theatre (map)
929 W. Belmont Ave.
Lakeview
phone 773-549-8080 or 312-559-1212

My First Time

Through 9/26: Fri 11 PM

Two years ago, Broken Nose Theatre's first pass at this 2007 off-Broadway hit—a compilation of inaugural sex tales culled from myfirsttime.com—was a promising but overly stagey affair. This time, they've hit their stride. Under Benjamin Brownson's fleet direction, the quartet of attentive, malleable performers deliver an hour's worth of confessional monologues—sublime, ridiculous, banal, harrowing—with candor and charisma. The inclusion of factoids culled from an anonymous preshow survey of the audience (how many of us are virgins, what we'd say to our first partners today) slyly pulls everyone into the show without the threat of embarrassment. The script still offers few grand insights (and unwisely concludes that the evening's stories don't really matter), but it charmingly demystifies many of our most potent collective secrets. —Justin Hayford $25

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

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