This 60-minute, late-night magic show is exactly what it should be: funny, lively, intimate, and utterly baffling. House Theatre of Chicago member Dennis Watkins blends quick-witted improv and physical comedy with freewheeling patter as he performs classic illusions. Though his sleight-of-hand is impossibly subtle, it was the mind reading tricks that seemed to have drawn several inquisitive skeptics back for another look on the night I attended. A curio-shop intimacy and cash bar encourage audience participation, and Watkins, with his Eagle Scout looks, clearly takes a mischievous pleasure in the unexpected. Just let your cell phone go off during the show and see what kind of fun he has. --Keith Griffith $75http://thehousetheatre.com
A happy hour for dog owners with dog-related boutiques, vendors, shelters, and other businesses.
Watching Supernatural Chicago in any month that isn't October is kind of like visiting Santa at the mall in June. But even in early spring, you might find more people than there are seats at Neil Tobin's one-man magic act cum local history lesson, in the dark former storage area (I mean, Indian burial ground) of Excalibur Nightclub's basement. I wouldn't trade the off-season showing for anything—there's nothing else like 20 strangers holding hands to conjure up the spirit of a dead suburban teenager, while Tobin walks around waving his hands over everybody. Yes, the show is cheesy, and, no, it didn't convert me, but that's what makes it good theater. After all, it wouldn't be any fun to hear a haunted rehash of the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre if you really suspected that Al Capone's ghost was in the seat next to you. — Hannah Gold $25 (includes two drinks and admission to dance club)http://supernaturalchicago.com
Chicago Public Radio's satirical twist on the classic quiz show is taped before a live audience. Host Peter Sagal and crew mine news stories for quiz questions, with different panelists from the worlds of literature and entertainment and audience members participating each week. Politics supply the jokes du jour, but what happens off microphone is often funnier. —Ryan Hubbard $24.75http://wbez.org/events
In its early days, photography was often confined to the studio, where subjects posed stock-still for as long as it took an image to be fixed on a glass plate. When film cameras became portable and, later, handheld, the medium easily moved outdoors, keeping pace with dramatic urban growth. But documenting that change wasn't always the focus; some shooters used the form for contemplation as they wandered on foot, their work the visible transmission of their musings. The photographer became the flaneur, that traditional walker alert to all the city's paradoxes.
"Of Walking," curated by associate director Karen Irvine, explores the connections between pedestrians and profundity. Several large works by the Japanese artist Sohei Nishino dominate the main-floor gallery. Part of an ongoing project, they're collages of hundreds of black-and-white 35mm location shots that Nishino took in his rambles through a chosen city. In each, a central artery—the Thames in Diorama Map London (2010), a railway line in Diorama Map Tokyo (2004)—leads the viewer on a circuitous route across urban sprawl, following Nishino's footsteps and sensory memory. Continue reading >>
Founded in Chicago in 1914 by Margaret Anderson, The Little Review was one of the most important periodicals for literary modernism, publishing work by T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and many others. June Sawyers's one-character play, based on Anderson's memoir My Thirty Years' War, traces the bohemian editor's career from her arrival in Chicago to her 1917 departure for New York. Sawyers does a creditable job of capturing the era's glamour and sense of possibility, and there's an added frisson to seeing the show on the same floor of the Fine Arts Building where the magazine had offices for a while. But Cynthia Judge's genial, script-in-hand performance as Anderson lacks the requisite daring and panache. —Zac Thompson $10
Exhibit chronicling the evolution of modern medicine, featuring historical surgical tools, paintings, prints, and sculptures, and including over 200 preserved human specimens. $22, $16 seniors and students, $12 kids 4-13
There's a forced sort of energy to Untitled, the so-hip-it-hurts "speakeasy" in River North, and it pervades Unbridled, a performance series featuring burlesque dancers, fire-eaters, contortionists, and more (the lineup changes weekly). It's a gorgeous space, perfect for showcasing the beautifully dressed young couples who inhabit it, the servers in period costume, and emcee Madame Barker on an odd-looking motorized podium. Oh, and the performers. With everything else going on here they end up feeling like an afterthought, sandwiched between dance parties led by go-go girls and accompanied by a black-and-white movie that plays constantly in the background. The couple seated next to us barely even stopped making out long enough to watch the performances. Which is too bad, because some of them were very good—particularly a number involving a blazing hula hoop. You'll get an unforgettable view of some of the dance routines if you sit at the long table in the middle of the room, since they take place on top of it. —Julia Thiel $10
The exhibit considers the work of friends Andy Warhol and Marisol Escobar side by side, highlighting each one’s use of serial imagery and the pair’s differing approaches to portraiture. One of our visual arts recommendations for fall. $12
In Under the Gun Theater's inaugural production, a cast of 12 performers improvise short pieces based on audience suggestions; one of these is then developed further by a guest playwright and staged at the next outing. $13http://undertheguntheater.com
Korean artists Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho imagine a techno-dystopic future in this spooky multidimensional installation. One of our visual arts recommendations for fall.