A contemporary musical focusing on the struggles of a deaf artist. $15
Forget Me Not Theatre Company presents the Rashoman-inspired tale of a single crime told through the eyes of multiple witnesses. $20http://forgetmenottheatreco.com
This latest entry in (Re)Discover theatre's season-long exploration of sex and gender roles stays true to its ancient Greek origins: it's rude, crude, and hilarious. Lysistrata, who has had enough of the Peloponnesian War, organizes the women of Greece to withhold their sexual favors until the men make peace. (For good measure, they hold the Athenian treasury in the Acropolis hostage too.) Miriam Reuter's fiery Lysistrata totally stomps Bobby Arnold's sexist Magistrate into submission, but the twist is, in alternating performances, the two actors will swap roles. The gender-bending cast appears to be having a terrific time, particularly Erika Haaland as Lysistrata's winebag friend Calonice and Andrew Lund as Myrrhine, a daffy 50s housewife turned sexual revolutionary. The audience gets to join in as well: decide whether you want to see the play as a man or a woman, then cast and crew will treat you to a lovely array of gender stereotypes. —Aimee Levitt $15-$20http://rediscovertheatre.com/
Before Tom Arvetis set out to write Spark, he hosted a series of storytelling workshops at Hispanic middle schools in Chicago, instructing students to invent a hero with the power to rectify a painful situation in their lives. Although Arvetis weaves elements from Greek myths into the resulting play, intended for kids nine and older, there's no obscuring the students' plight. A curious teen named Pandora has been separated from her mother by a totalitarian ruler so obsessed with border control that he indoctrinates the younger generation into believing anyone who attempts to gain unauthorized access is a terrorist and a monster. The implication is shattering, but under the direction of Rives Collins, the talented, enthusiastic cast at Adventure Stage Chicago convey hope and perseverance. —Jena Cutie $25, $15 for childrenhttp://adventurestage.org
The second play in Brooke Allen's "Lost Sibling" trilogy focuses on Clara, a thirtysomething dead-ender, and Russ, her dead-end teenage brother, one of whom is killed in an automobile accident with a deer. Through oblique, elliptical scenes that bleed into one another (and sometimes wander into unnecessarily mystical territory), Allen skillfully depicts the destabilizing effects of grief. But it's a rather static depiction, moody rather than pregnant, looping when it might progress. Director Eric Hoff creates an aptly hallucinogenic atmosphere, and his cast deliver thoughtful, well-observed performances, with Bryan Bosque's gracefully ungrounded turn as Russ particularly effective. The play may linger all evening in familiar territory (and the twist ending raises more questions than it answers), but the many moments of unassuming pathos are wrenching. —Justin Hayford $20http://ruckustheater.org
The latest production from Colectivo El Pozo, El Inca follows Honduran immigrants Fernando and Martin, who meet at a Chicago gay bar every Wednesday night to continue their years-long affair. Because they're both married—Fernando to an Argentine woman and Martin to a Puerto Rican—they arrive early, before the crowds of noncloseted gay men show up for karaoke and dancing. At this quiet hour Cata, the drag queen who owns the place, has plenty of time to meddle in the pairs' concerns, including whether they'll leave their wives to be together openly. The implication is that it's a difficult step to take for Latino immigrants, whose families aren't likely to accept them (Fernando's wife's family disowned her gay brother). But while the production asks plenty of questions, there don't seem to be any answers, least of all to the problem of what's going to happen to the characters. In Spanish with supertitles. —Julia Thiel $15, $10 for students
Originally, Mario's famous mustache was just an animator's dodge, a way to avoid rendering detailed facial features on the eight-bit NES. At the very end of Gorilla Tango's clunky, opportunistic spoof on the long-running Nintendo franchise, performer Paly Flames takes off her thick Mario 'stache, and her strikingly beautiful visage may be the show's most sensual reveal. The burlesque numbers are hurried, the periodic audience shakedowns for "coins" distracting, and the parlor-psychology dives into Mario and Luigi's motivations exasperating. Director Jeremy Eden's cast includes attractive women of all body types, but hearing the "level up" sound effect when they flashed pasties made me cringe. If self-empowered sexuality and the conquer-and-proceed imperatives of video games can comfortably coexist, they don't do it here. –Keith Griffith $35
An all-female version of Star Wars is an interesting proposition to begin with. When those females end most scenes by stripping down to pasties, it just gets even more, well, interesting. The Gorilla Tango Theatre cast pulls it off beautifully in a funny, clever reimagining of Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back that references the original without getting too bogged down in plot. Among the many successful scenes is one where Yoda teaches Luke Skywalker the ways of the Force, a power that in this version is activated through vigorous shimmying. When Luke gets frustrated and complains that she's not well enough equipped to levitate the X-wing fighter, Yoda displays her own modestly sized breasts and gently advises that "cup size matters not." —Julia Thiel $28-35
Answering the prayers of nerdy straight guys everywhere, this Geek Girl Burlesque show features a bunch of scantily clad women reenacting the first Star Wars movie. The only character who isn't played by a woman, R2-D2, is represented by a trash can. M.C. Curran's script closely follows the plot of the original except that the action frequently pauses so cast members can strip down to pasties and panties. Even Chewbacca gets a turn. In the spirit of Minsky's, Timothy Bambara's staging is more suggestive than raunchy and as concerned with laughs and novelty as with titillation. It also offers the rare chance to see Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi perform a posthumous striptease to the Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke." —Zac Thompson $35
A holiday hangout in your grandparents' basement in the wee hours, with inebriated uncles and cousins telling tales of woe and failure (they were drunk then too)—it's a little like that. Comedian Sean Flannery's The Blackout Diaries returned to the 70s-style Lincoln Lodge this past January, having begun there with a short run two years ago before moving to a monthly gig at the Beat Kitchen. It's weekly now, with a Malort sponsorship to boot (and a podcast launching May 1). No qualms about it, the show is about drinking (and occasionally smoking) yourself into enough of a stupor that a great yarn comes from it—and hopefully some shocking photo and/or video documentation, as well. It finds humor in the bleakness of the bender. Each week's stories come from a mix of comics—I was fortunate to catch both Chris Condren and Brian Babylon during a recent visit—and everyday Chicagoans, many of whom Flannery probably met while hugging a mug of Old Style at a bar, and many of whom probably have stories to outshine the pros. Example: The amiable postal worker and former speakeasy owner, known simply as "Floyd," who once had a time in Malta that consisted of the attempted liberation of a sex slave and the maniacal bare-fisted bashing in of a small automobile. And that's just the CliffsNotes version. Flannery is a sharp, expert host—benefiting, no doubt, from the show's increased frequency—who keeps the flow of guests steady without appearing hurried. He supplements the Q&A portion with clever inquiries if the audience isn't speaking up. Regardless of the heavy content—drinking until you climb on top of something and then fall off that something isn't actually always a blast—the mood is unceasingly light, and you're probably drinking anyway. So go make a memory. —Kevin Warwick
"Holy bi-curious moment, Batman!" says the Boy Wonder in this entertaining superhero burlesque from Gorilla Tango Theatre. Clothes are shed early and often as our hero(in)es deal out double entendres along with bams and pows in their battles against the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, and other villains. Marie Curieosity is full of silly self-importance and unbridled libido as the Caped Crusader, and Crystal Paradise makes a campy Robin. In fact, the whole cast show sexy confidence and solid comedic timing, creating a Gotham City that's a lot more fun than Christopher Nolan's. If you found The Dark Knight Rises too violent, you'll prefer the fight scene here in which Robin gives the Riddler a titty twister and gets motorboated in return. —Marissa Oberlander $28-$35
Weekly stand-up showcase. $5 suggested donation, 21+http://gallerycabaret.com
Live dating show hosted by Marc Smith and Carolyn Hoerdemann. $5
For close to 15 years, one of Chicago's best comedy clubs wasn't even in a club. It was in the back of the Lincoln Restaurant, a modest diner in North Center where the Lincoln Lodge, the successful indie stand-up and variety show, set up shop. The restaurant's wood-paneled walls and curiously patterned carpets created a warm and welcoming experience not unlike watching a comedy show at your grandma's house. Lest this environment sound too safe, the show itself is known for its edge. The house cast, which currently features promising up-and-comers Derek Smith and Rebecca O'Neil, boasts such alumni as Cameron Esposito and Kumail Nanjiani, while Kyle Kinane and Hannibal Buress were among the show's most frequent visitors until Hollywood came calling. Even now, the Lodge draws prominent headlining comedians—like Marc Maron and Eddie Pepitone—eager to perform for cheerful crowds untroubled by a two-drink minimum.
When the Lincoln Restaurant closed its doors in December, the Lincoln Lodge was without a home. Luckily, the Subterranean came calling. Located in the epicenter of Wicker Park and patronized by boozy youngsters, the SubT isn't as homey, but the Lodge has always had swagger, and the new digs reflect that. And the location is ideal for tracking down targets for Lincoln Lodge's live interview segment, which puts a comic out on the streets to interview unsuspecting passersby.
At the show I saw on March 14, genial host Marty DeRosa welcomed a mix of newer faces (Smith and fellow cast member Trey Brown) and old standbys (CPS teacher turned full-time comic Jeanie Doogan), all of whom were solid. Local legend Junior Stopka headlined the evening, and his irreverent ramblings and absurd non sequiturs were characteristically hilarious, enough to distract from the bass-heavy EDM show that was starting upstairs (some of the kinks are still being worked out, it seems). That lone drawback aside, the new era of the Lincoln Lodge is off to a strong start. —Drew Hunt $10http://thelincolnlodge.com