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A Q Brothers' Christmas Carol

Through 12/31: Tue-Fri 7:30 PM (except Thu 12/25), Sat 6 and 8:30 PM, Sun 3 and 6 PM (except Sun 12/7, 4 and 7 PM); also Wed 12/31, 10 PM

In this contemporary urban retelling of Dickens's 1843 novella, the impoverished Cratchits are such ignorant ghetto stereotypes they put their kid's finger in a socket when they need an extension cord. Their domestic scenes are appallingly offensive and, like most everything else in this unrelenting, audacious, strategically self-deprecating piece, more in keeping with Dickens's grotesque original than any "traditional" adaptation I've ever seen. Local theatrical hip-hop darlings GQ and JQ pack this 80-minute show—performed entirely in rhyming couplets—with sly music history (the Ghost of Christmas Past is a Sugar Hill Gang/Run DMC reject) and even slier social commentary (the Ghost of Christmas Future, embodying pure terror, is a ringer for Trayvon Martin). Except for the stylistically impenetrable opening, the show is bracingly insightful. —Justin Hayford $30-$48

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

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Pericles

Through 1/16: Tue-Sun, various times, see website

You've got to give credit to the folks at Chicago Shakespeare Theater: they take their mission seriously enough that they'll attempt even this miserable contrivance, only partly written by the Bard and extant only in a corrupt quarto that scholars suppose was pieced together from memory. The editors of the First Folio couldn't justify including Pericles in their collection, but CST is willing to give it a try. The story is reminiscent of The Winter's Tale in that it concerns a king who spends years separated from his wife and daughter. But where the estrangement in The Winter's Tale is caused by the king's reckless behavior, here it's just another damned thing that happens. Best known for musicals, director David H. Bell tries all kinds of tactics to make something silky of his sow's ear. Now it's a comedy with metatheatrical winks. Now it's a fantasia a la Mary Zimmerman. Now . . . dancing! Nothing works. And Bell is further hobbled by his poorly cast leading man, Ben Carlson, whose Pericles resembles an accountant in a jerkin. At least we've got Nan Cibula-Jenkins's sumptuous costumes and Scott Davis's cunning sets to look at. —Tony Adler $58

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

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