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Events This Weekend – Closing (Theater and Galleries)

12 total results

Redletter

Through 3/28: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM

This Neo-Futurist exploration of the digital age of media, created by poetry-slam guru Lisa Buscani and directed by Jen Ellison, feels like the most inspiring, hilarious, and relatable graduate-level journalism class you never took. That the show begins with Buscani’s hero worship of Robert Redford as Bob Woodward sets the tone for its goofy, off-kilter earnestness as ensemble members share their intimate relationships with the media. For Bilal Dardai, it's the fear of "putting my son in the care of the world’s storytellers." For Lindsay Muscato, it's the troubling power of Internet trolls. In between the explorations of the press as both sword and shield, humorous interludes highlight everything from Trevor Dawkins’s gifted physical comedy to a newsworthy burrito. There were never glory days, they say, but there also won’t be an end to journalism. Though if the apocalypse hits, Ted Turner has already taped a segment featuring "Nearer My God to Thee" to air on CNN. —Marissa Oberlander. $20

Neo-Futurarium (map)
5153 N. Ashland Ave.
Andersonville
phone 773-275-5255

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Dividing the Estate

Through 3/28: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

In his last Broadway play, Horton Foote uses two long acts to show how mildly unpleasant the 1987 recession must have been for privileged, self-absorbed, stereotypical white Texans. Implacable matriarch Lucille’s stuck with a semiprofitable 5,000-acre estate, making do with only three black servants and two paid family members to look after her. Her three adult children endlessly grouse and scheme about selling off bits of the homestead. Her nieces are greedy idiots. Little evolves; characters change only if they have the good sense to die. A more developed production might excavate some Chekhovian social commentary from the script, which owes an embarrassing debt to The Cherry Orchard. But director Cody Estle’s good-natured, stylish, imperturbable production ambles along pleasantly without a discernible point of view. —Justin Hayford $36

Raven Theatre (map)
6157 N. Clark St.
Edgewater
phone 773-338-2177

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The Sweeter Option

Through 3/28: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 4 PM

Failed Chicago Cub Cyril Tucker turns two-bit private investigator, heads off to repo a rental car, and ends up trapped in an elaborate embezzlement scheme—and in the arms of seemingly pitiless femme fatale Irene. John Henry Roberts’s original semicomic crime escapade hits many of the right noiresque notes, but the flurry of intricate plot points and deliberately scrambled chronology make the story difficult to follow. More problematic, director Marti Lyons’s awkwardly paced Strawdog premiere provides little incentive to care about Tucker or his world. Her cast struggle to render Roberts’s highly styled dialogue persuasive, creating an evening of indistinct motivations and murky relationships. And for all the intriguing plot twists and sordid interludes, the 85-minute piece rarely digs much beneath its pulpy surface. —Justin Hayford $28, $24 for seniors

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Strawdog Theatre Company (map)
3829 N. Broadway St.
Lakeview
phone 773-528-9696

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Four

Through 3/28: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM

As spare as its title, Christopher Shinn's 90-minute play gives us four souls doing their befuddled best to liberate themselves on Independence Day, 1996. Joe is a university professor from Hartford, Connecticut, taking advantage of a trip to Boston to hook up with June, a 16-year-old gay virgin he met online. Back home in Hartford, Joe's teenage daughter, Abigayle, slips away from her bedridden mom to hook up with her wannabe boyfriend, a basketball-playing wigger named Dexter. Sex is had, after a fashion, but the couples spend most of their time engaged in pained conversation, backing ever so reluctantly into what they mean to say. There may be a delicate Chekhovian comedy in there somewhere. But by confusing quiet desperation with solemn stasis, this Jackalope Theatre production never finds it. —Tony Adler $5-$20

Broadway Armory Park (map)
5917 N. Broadway St.
Edgewater
phone 312-742-7502
Four

The Real World: Space Edition

2/20-3/28: Fri-Sat 8 PM

Stephen Kropa's comedy about a reality show set in space. $15

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

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Traces

Through 3/28: Mon, Fri-Sat 8 PM

After meeting cute at a farmers’ market, Jenny and Tom spend one beautiful day together; then Tom disappears. Six weeks later, Jenny discovers that she’s pregnant and in the course of tracking down Tom, learns that he’s some sort of supernatural being who’s hundreds of years old (every time you meet a guy, he’s either married or immortal). Shannon Pritchard’s nonlinear play, based on the old Scottish ballad "Tam Lin," stays vague on the magic stuff. Instead we get semisatirical sketches of hipster hangouts and musings on love and modern life from a folksy busker who also serves as narrator. Though the script is unfocused, Jessica Fisch’s staging for Feast Productions has an appealing cast and a handsomely spooky set designed by Emily Tarleton. —Zac Thompson $15-$20

http://feast-productions.com
The Frontier (map)
1106 W. Thorndale
Edgewater

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El Stories: Love Train

Through 3/28: Sat 11 PM

The Waltzing Mechanics present real-life stories about finding love on the train. $20

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

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First Date

Through 3/29: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 7 and 9:30 PM, Sat 5:30 and 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

This has all the earmarks of a standard-issue date-night show: upbeat material, likable tunes, unchallenging themes, contemporary stock characters (the repressed guy, the high-maintenance girl, her gay BFF). Nothing here to scare guys who hate musicals (and call intermission "halftime") or the women who date them. But remarkably, Austin Winsberg (book) and Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (music and lyrics) have created an entertaining, emotionally satisfying show that never panders or condescends. Nor does J.R. Rose’s strong, well-paced production, packed with performers (notably Dana Parker and Charlie Lubeck) who know how to get their laughs without neglecting the emotional depths in this rich material. —Jack Helbig $15-$59

Royal George Theatre Center (map)
1641 N. Halsted St.
Lincoln Park
phone 312-988-9000

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The Royale

Through 3/29: Wed-Fri 8 PM, Sat 2 and 8 PM, Sun 2 PM

Marco Ramirez's muscular, poetic 2013 play—a hypnotic riff on showmanship, exploitation, and self-preservation in Jim Crow America—stops just shy of brilliance. Through eloquent, stylized scenes punctuated with percussive claps, stomps, and guttural laughs, Ramirez follows the swaggering, deeply wounded Jay "the Sport" Jackson, a wildly popular Negro boxer circa 1905 who’ll stop at nothing to fight the (white) heavyweight champion of the world. Inspired by the saga of Jack Johnson, Ramirez’s terse, ruminative fantasy enmeshes Jackson in an intricate web of bravado and resentment, where he faces consequences both life-changing and life-destroying. Director Jamie Castañeda’s uncompromising cast renders most every moment haunting, harrowing, and human, and while Ramirez’s thematically repetitive and conceptually muddled finale shortchanges everything that precedes it, the lead-up is thrilling. —Justin Hayford $48-$60

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American Theater Company (map)
1909 W. Byron St.
North Center
phone 773-409-4125

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Scenes From an Execution

Through 3/29: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM

English writer Howard Barker's superb but too rarely seen 1984 play (originally written as a vehicle for Glenda Jackson) crackles in the Runcible Theatre's spare, intimate production at the Royal George Theatre's black-box gallery space. This engrossing, ironic study of art, sex, and politics concerns a female painter in 16th-century Italy who is commissioned to create an epic canvas celebrating the victory of the Venetian army—and, by extension, Christendom itself—over a Muslim enemy. Rather than glorifying Venice's military and moral superiority, the artist delivers a brutal depiction of the horrors of war—and faces severe consequences at the hands of the secular and religious authorities. The staging by director Andrew Root and movement director Micah Figueroa features a commanding, beautifully spoken lead performance by husky-voiced British actor Sarah Chalcroft, who mines Barker's barbed text for every nuance of her character's complexity. Strong support comes from a fine ensemble (including the wonderful Stephen Fedo as the Venetian doge, the painter's patron-turned-persecutor). Raquel Adorno's costumes imaginatively meld Renaissance and contemporary styles to underscore the timeless relevance of Barker's examination of the volatile relationship of the artist to her public. —Albert Williams $26

http://runcibletheatre.org
Royal George Theatre Center (map)
1641 N. Halsted St.
Lincoln Park
phone 312-988-9000
Scenes From an Execution

Tomato Queen

Through 3/29: Fri 8 PM, Sat-Sun 2 PM

Quest Theatre Ensemble's original musical for kids is laudably ambitious if underdeveloped. Tomato Queen—book and lyrics by Christine Hodak and music by Scott C. Lamps—tells the story of Camina (a stellar Molly LeCaptain), who's sent away to "commercial success" camp by her parents, sold on the Machiavellian theories of Mr. Boggs (Kent Joseph). There the last mostly hides behind a giant newspaper and orders around a sidekick (Kirk Osgood, a standout in multiple roles), while Camina works to discover the secrets to growing a perfect tomato, aided by a fast friend in Dormouse (Vincent Lonergan) and faced with challenges from the devious Evil Scientist (campy Nate Buursma). At more than two hours, with no fewer than 34 musical numbers, the show remains a work in progress, or at least in need of some serious cuts. —Suzanne Scanlon

http://questensemble.org
Blue Theatre (map)
1609 W. Gregory St.
Andersonville
phone 312-458-0895

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Tenth Annual Emerging Artist Exhibit

3/13-3/31

A group show featuring more than 15 local artists. Reception Fri 3/13, 6-10 PM.

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

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