The fringe comes to the fore 

A month of edgy theater and performance at Rhinofest

Stranger(s)

Stranger(s)

Larry Hart

Positively venerable at the ripe old age of 23, Rhinofest continues its run as one of Chicago's annual go-to events for local fringe theater and performance art. Here are a few likely highlights of the monthlong dramaturgical smorgasbord curated by Curious Theatre Branch:

The kickoff production is Barrie Cole's I Love You Permanently (through 2/10: Fri 7 PM), in which H.B. Ward and Amy Eaton play a "near-miss couple" who pack as much as possible into a single-evening relationship. Their reckless romance is followed by the macabre Stranger(s) (through 2/10: Fri 9 PM), cowritten and directed by longtime off-Loop stalwart Rick Paul.

Curious Theatre Branch offers up shows by a few of its own, including Beau O'Reilly, Jayita Bhattacharya, and Michael Martin. Set in Ireland, O'Reilly's Our Kate Takes a Trip (through 2/12: Sat 7 PM, Sun 1/15 and 2/12 7 PM) follows the effects of an unlucky car ride to Galway. Bhattacharya's Today Like a Kind of Shivering (through 2/12: Sat 9 PM, Sun 1/15 and 2/12 5 pm) presents a "fairy tale of corrosive unacceptability" in which a dropped spoon apparently figures prominently. And Martin directs Beauty (Sat-Sun 1/14-1/15, 3 PM), a one-man "erotic odyssey" inspired by the life of French outlaw poet Jean Genet.

Look for Bruised Orange Theater—the company responsible for I Saw You, based on Reader personals—performing Civil War Dad (through 2/10: Thu 9 PM and Fri 2/10 9 PM), a sci-fi coming-of-age musical about one woman's search through time for her father. And the Reader's 2009 pick for best emerging playwright, Mark Chrisler, checks in with On Loss (through 2/3: Fri 9 PM, opens 1/20) an evening of short plays connected by the theme of—you guessed it—loss.

Closing the festivities is King Pignacious (Sat-Sun 2/11-2/12, 9 PM), a ten-piece band putting on a multimedia "extravaganza" that tells the epic tale of the "Great Pig Wars" against the health care system.

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