Death & Harry Houdini | Chopin Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Dennis Watkins and ensemble in Death & Harry Houdini

Dennis Watkins and ensemble in Death & Harry Houdini

Michael Brosilow

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through July 24 2016
Price: $15-$59
Nathan Allen's play about the legendary escape artist has already cheated death a few times. It introduced the House Theatre of Chicago to Chicago in 2001, received a remount in 2003, then ran again in 2012 and '13. Now it's back for the House's 15th anniversary, with solid vital signs and perennial Houdini Dennis Watkins back in his water-torture cell. Basically a magic show nestled in a biography, the production recounts Houdini's life in the graphic-novel style the House has long favored, veering between the cartoonishness of Houdini's gibberish-spouting mama (rendered endearing despite her decades-long bad mood by Marika Mashburn) and a spectral, top-hatted embodiment of Death. As for the magic: though it loses the sense of raw wonder in a theatrical setting, it's accomplished with enormous cunning, elegance, and skill. —Tony Adler

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