Posted inTheater Review

Glitter and be gay

The stars in this play spend one act gleaming, another act fading away. For a brief window of time in the 1930s, Hollywood was a place of permissiveness toward the homosexuality of its leading men, with the movies’ first Ben-Hur, Ramon Novarro (Trey DeLuna) and the dashing MGM icon Billy Haines (Adam Jennings) throwing champagne […]

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Soul sisters

If you’re looking for respite from the slush-bound, gawdawful doldrums of February (and who isn’t?), Mercury Theater Chicago offers a scorching-good respite in Women of Soul. Rebooting the show they debuted in 2018 at Black Ensemble Theater, writer/director Daryl D. Brooks and musical director Robert Reddrick don’t shy away from taking on the tunes that […]

Posted inTheater Review

Father and child reunion

Playwright John Guare once posited that every story can be boiled down to either Romeo and Juliet or David and Goliath. A third archetype, I would submit, is the Mom or Dad Issues Play (Goliath moms and dads notwithstanding). And yet, though playwright travis tate’s new work, Queen of the Night, is part of a […]

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We have met the tiger, and it is us

Nicole Wiesner directs Sławomir Mrożek’s loopy 1959 send-up of Eastern bloc life. All the put-upon Mr. Ohey—Dennis Bisto in a snarling standout turn—wants to do is read his newspaper. But an avalanche of quotidian and not-so-quotidian circumstances conspire to make this impossible. Mrs. Ohey—portrayed gracefully, which is quite a feat considering what’s being thrown at […]

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Déjà vu all over again

What musical could possibly capture our collective pandemic ennui? Perhaps a story about reliving the same gray day without surcease, surrounded by the same irritating people, with all your best intentions of self-improvement adding up to naught? BING! Welcome to Groundhog Day: The Musical.  Based on the 1993 Harold Ramis film, this 2017 show (book […]

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Fallout boys

Looking through the window of the control room at the stars, Leonid (CJ Lange-Embree) muses on how much he always wanted to be an astronaut. It’s too late for that. He’s been sipping vodka at the switches all night, the reactor is melting down, and there’s nothing he, his diligent counterpart Akimov (RJ Cecott), or […]

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Secret, but saggy

Note to would-be play adapters: Agatha Christie’s second published detective novel, The Secret Adversary (1922), is in public domain. That means you can pretty much do whatever you want with this text, and still call it an “adaptation.” This is pretty much what First Folio executive artistic director David Rice does here. Extremely loosely based […]

Posted inArts & Culture

Heights of illusion

The sight is already a bit of a tell: steps away from boutiques, antiques, bars, and restaurants, a cramped and dingy laundromat with no hot waft of Breeze or Bounty stands unattended, garments whirling entropically, no clean to be achieved. A pink phone with no dial tone, a bell with no service, and yet an […]

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The movement at home

Donja R. Love’s Fireflies (the second in his trilogy, The Love* Plays, each focusing on a different era of Black American history) is at once brutal and hopeful, the hate and violence-soaked former threatening throughout to extinguish the hard-won gleam of the latter but never quite succeeding. It’s 1963 when we meet Olivia (Chanell Bell) […]

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History is Relentless

The year 1919 is having a theatrical moment this season in Chicago, even with Steppenwolf postponing the world premiere of Eve L. Ewing’s 1919 (which was originally slated to open this week as part of the Steppenwolf for Young Adults series) until fall of 2022. That watershed year in American history comes to complicated and […]

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Singing for the roses

For the longtime home of Million Dollar Quartet to have transitioned to the site of a rotating slate of parody musicals could be cringe-inducing, if not for their impressively consistent quality and ability to draw sizable audiences. It’s a feat that’s all the more notable with Omicron’s rise (and hopeful fall?) emptying chairs at live […]

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Talking democracy to death

If you think Congress is inept in a crisis now, just wait till you see what 2465 has in store! In Brendan Pelsue’s dystopian dramedy, Wellesley Girl, the U.S. has been reduced to three (or maybe four, if you count abandoned Wellesley) towns in Massachusetts—the only places on the eastern seaboard where, thanks to MIT […]

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Sinister spinsters

Jen Silverman’s The Moors is a brilliantly executed pastiche of everything from Wuthering Heights (the gloomy insalubrious environs of the title) to Rebecca, complete with a menacing parlor maid/scullery maid named either Marjory or Mallory, and suffering from either an unwanted pregnancy or typhus, depending on what room you catch her in. (Played to perfection […]