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The Royal Society of Antarctica

Through 4/26: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM

The claustrophobic confines of the Gift Theatre’s tiny storefront space in Jefferson Park are the perfect setting for Mat Smart's intimate drama, set in and among the small huts that make up the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. Smart adroitly balances the twin elements of his story, informing us about the unique demands of working in this harsh environment and telling us the story of a young neophyte, ably played by Aila Peck, who comes to the bottom of the world in search of answers about her mother’s death there years ago. He also packs his play with lots of quirky, fascinating, utterly believable characters, all of them played in this talented ensemble’s intense take-no-prisoners style. John Gawlik directs this world premiere. —Jack Helbig $20-$35

Gift Theatre Company (map)
4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Jefferson Park
phone 773-283-7071
The Royal Society of Antarctica

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Natural Gas

Open run: Wed 8 PM

The quality of an improv show is directly proportional to the quality of the improvisers who create it. Put together a group of kids who know nothing about the world—or themselves—and you get a lot of cliches and imitations of bad TV. Put together an ensemble of strong, experienced actors who happen also to like to improvise and you have the optimal conditions for a piece filled with well-articulated characters in amusing relationships and interesting situations. That latter was the case with Natural Gas, the Gift Theatre's house improv team, on the night I saw them. As in every improvisation, not every moment worked, and some actors made basic mistakes, like introducing inconsistencies. All the same, their show contained more than the usual moments of spontaneous delight—and occasional splashes of pure inspiration. —Jack Helbig $5

Gift Theatre Company (map)
4802 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Jefferson Park
phone 773-283-7071

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