Improv and stand-up comedy by Keenan Camp and Logan Dean.
The second of L. Frank Baum's 14 Oz books follows the adventures of an orphan named Tip and his two traveling companions, the Saw-Horse and Jack Pumpkinhead. After escaping the clutches of an evil sorceress, these three wind up helping the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman restore control of the Emerald City to its rightful sovereign, Princess Ozma. Anthony Whitaker's thoroughly charming musical adaptation stays faithful to Baum's vision yet maintains a spunky sense of humor—all without sliding into camp, schmaltz, or sarcasm. His staging for New American Folk Theatre has an off-the-cuff vibe and an arts-and-crafts aesthetic; it features a lively, likable cast and several inventive puppets (also designed by Whitaker) standing in for the more fantastical creatures. —Zac Thompson $15-$20
The tale Chris Bower tells in this one-hander, about an unhinged father determined to make his son into a high school football star, could stand on its own as a fascinating short story. But brought to the stage by director Kevlyn Hayes and actor Matt Test, the piece is powerful, darkly funny—and ultimately sad. Test plays a computer repair guy who's allowed his inner demons to rule, and ruin, his life. Estranged from his son and forbidden by court order to be near his wife—who goes to all the football games—he's drawn inexorably to repeated self-destructive encounters with them, and with the authorities. Hayes's clever, graceful staging finds myriad onstage metaphors for the protagonist's disintegrating mental state. —Jack Helbig $15
Where's the sleaze? Sure, cast members strip in this Geek Girls Burlesque parody of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but they're so good-humored, goofy, and, yes, geeky, about it that it doesn't always register as sexy, let alone dirty. There's little to make a man want to slip in unnoticed and scrunch down low in his seat. Still, fun compensates for the lack of depravity. Though the stripping routines can get repetitive (turn away, unbuckle bra, turn back with breasts coyly covered), they're always energetic—even dancerly. All of the leads have great stage presence and some acting chops. And "Sadie Hotkins" is an unmitigated knockout as Indiana Jones. Which is a problem, when you think about it. As much as I appreciated Hotkins's looks, I couldn't help but notice that she occupies the top rung of an anatomical hierarchy where traditional beauty equals virtue. And on the bottom rung? Well, the comic villain is played by a fat girl. —Tony Adler $35
It's no mean feat to distill the Faust legend into a jointly created, mostly wordless (words in English, at least) movement-theater piece that clocks in at just an hour. Yet in Trap Door Theatre's compassionate Core of the Pudel, director Thom Pasculli does no mean job. Creating a wounded, splintered Faust played by six performers—an Everyman and Everywoman—he suggests that we damn ourselves every day with small decisions driven by arrogance and a wish for transcendence. As the Devil, the charismatic Pasculli convincingly seduces Faust; Cortney McKenna, subtle yet affecting, is persuasive as Faust's victim. For me, all the tortured faces and acrobatic movement, more symbolic than dramatic, wore thin. But delicious homemade touches—puppetry, an onstage violinist, simple but evocative props, the performers' musical contributions—won me over. –Laura Molzahn $20-$25
Adapted from a Serbian folktale, Miodrag Stanisavljevic's whimsical 1981 one-act feels like an amalgam of dozens of other fairy stories. A poor but worthy young man, Poor Gasho, saves a magical snake and is given a reward: the ability to speak the silent language of animals and plants. He sets out to save a beautiful princess from an evil elf, using his gift to overcome various obstacles along the way. In bringing this story to the stage, director Jacqueline Stone amps up the charm, packing her production with beguiling touches: fascinating masks (Kirk Anderson) and thrift shop costumes (Branimira Ivanova), not to mention an ensemble that plays well together and knows how to convey both the darkness and light of this rich tale. —Jack Helbig $15-$25
Exhibit curated by Daniela C. Bono that examines the art, objects, documents, and first-hand accounts of life on Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble presents two new lyrical pieces inspired by Persian poet Rumi. $15-$20
Kate Levant's first solo show in her hometown is on the gendered nature of objects. Reception Sat 4/13, 4-7 PM.
Jason Lahr presents paintings and works on paper inspired by the masculine identity in pop culture. Reception Fri 5/24 5-8 PM.
The complete collection of McClusky's collages, which he made from household objects and that depict his life as a traveling circus clown. Reception Fri 1/11, 5-8 PM.