Theater, Dance, Comedy and Performance in Chicago

Review: Othello: The Remix/Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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Postell Pringle and GQ/Photo: Michael Brosilow.

Postell Pringle and GQ/Photo: Michael Brosilow.

RECOMMENDED

William Shakespeare was the son of a leatherworker. Billy Shakes slanged the lingo with diction and confabulations like swagger, invulnerable, assassination, dexterous, madcap, mountaineer, moonbeam and gnarled. B. Shizzle banged out lines and rhymes with beats that spoke so hard they never stopped. Shazam was the first and best rapper and the Q Brothers pay respect to the one we call the Bard in “Othello: The Remix,” which returns to the turf on which it premiered in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Julius Caesar/Brown Paper Box Co.

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Jeff Kurysz and Susan Myburgh/Photo: Zach Dries

One test of a chic woman’s mettle is how many ways she can deploy her scarf: casually slung over a shoulder, knotted loosely or tightly around the neck, folded, fanned or flounced. This is the premise behind the two-toned scarf that serves as the variable within an otherwise anonymous, androgynous uniform of nude-colored t-shirts, jeans and dagger holster in Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Julius Caesar.” It’s a sash, a cravat, an ascot, a shawl, a cummerbund, a bustle, a back brace, a baby sling, a hood, a hijab. Royal purple on one side, vermilion on the other: this is a statement piece that will allow its wearer to convey an opinion on statecraft and bloodshed without saying a word. Suitable for both men and women, particularly in director Lavina Jadhwani’s production, which purports to retell a story largely about men and their voracity for power through “a gender-conscious lens” by swapping sexes for Caesar, Mark Antony and Calpurnia, the scarf is a device as random as the gender-bending—potentially clever but ultimately without purpose when unevenly applied. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Othello/Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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Michael Milligan and James Vincent Meredith/Photo: Liz Lauren

Michael Milligan and James Vincent Meredith/Photo: Liz Lauren

RECOMMENDED

Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “Othello” is a man’s play in a man’s world. It opens with Iago and Roderigo, average white dudes in baseball caps and leather jackets, talking smack about the Moor Othello and heckling aged skinhead Brabantio about his wayward daughter Desdemona’s proclivity for dark meat through the intercom system of his cement-block apartment complex. Men are lewd, Shakespeare never hesitates to remind us in a play that presents miscegenation, cuckoldry and adultery as its primary anxieties. The men in this production, directed by Jonathan Munby, make sure we know it, particularly Michael Milligan’s sneering, overemphatic Iago, who manically mimes everything from tupping an ewe to putting money in one’s purse. Read the rest of this entry »

A Chance To Be Good: “Richard III” Reimagined with Michael Patrick Thornton and The Gift Theatre

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By Noel Schecter

The darkest days for Michael Patrick Thornton began in the immediate aftermath of the spinal strokes that left him paralyzed and comatose for three days in 2003. Thornton then underwent extensive therapy at both the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) as well as at his home in Jefferson Park. This almost daily therapy lasted sometimes for as long as six hours and would sometimes entail Thornton reading aloud Shakespeare’s soliloquies and sonnets in an effort to help regain breath control and relearn how to project his voice without passing out at the end of a sentence. Thornton found this somewhat comforting as some of his earliest theatrical accomplishments, prior to his injuries, involved Shakespeare. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: From These Fatal Loins/The Ruckus

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Chris Waldron and Jillian Rea/Photo: Austin D. Oie.

Chris Waldron and Jillian Rea/Photo: Austin D. Oie

Let’s start here: all the stuff you’ve seen and read about Romeo and Juliet was fake, an elaborate ploy so that the pair could run off to Reno together. Juliet (Jillian Rea) is horny and bloodthirsty as hell while Romeo (Christopher Waldron) is a little reticent about the whole thing. He catches glimpses of their former love and finds a movie marathon dedicated to them. Juliet scoffs it off as an insincere interpretation of the pair and demands that they be known for who they really are: the Star-Crossed Killers. So they begin sticking up gas stations and killing to repossess their names. In the meantime, the Prince of Verona (Nathaniel Fishburn) hunts them down in order to return them to their proper story. Read the rest of this entry »

Opening This Week: February 22-28, 2016

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Sam Hubbard and Antonio Zhiurinskas/Photo: Dean La Prarie

Sam Hubbard and Antonio Zhiurinskas/Photo: Dean La Prarie

Monday

“A Loss of Roses” at Raven Theatre. The “nearly-lost classic” from William Inge returns to Chicago. Through April 2. For tickets and more information visit raventheatre.com

“Romeo and Juliet” at Lyric Opera of Chicago. The new to Chicago take on Shakespeare’s infamous tale of love and death closes Lyric’s memorable season. Through March 19. For tickets and more information visit lyricopera.org
Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Twelfth Night/Midsommer Flight

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Meredith Ernst and Nick Loumos/Photo: Midsommer Flight

RECOMMENDED

Visually austere, acoustically clean, aromatically alive, the Lincoln Park Conservatory makes a fine setting for Shakespeare’s most sensuous and musical of comedies. When the lovesick Count Orsino (a languorous Nick Loumos), smitten by the beautiful but prickly Countess Olivia (the striking Kanome’ Jones), rhapsodizes about “the sweet sound that breathes upon a bank of violets, stealing and giving odor,” viewers need just inhale to understand his distracted state of mind.

With this production, Midsommer Flight marks its arrival as an artistic force. Using the simplest of means, this youthful, talented troupe opens up a world of pleasure in Shakespeare’s poetry and insight, while never pandering to the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: R+J: The Vineyard/Oracle and Red Theater

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Brendan Connelly and McKenna Liesman/Photo: Joe Mazza

RECOMMENDED

There are a few principles of stage drama that every audience member, regardless of age or experience, implicitly understands. Among them is the importance of intentions. More than words, intentions allow actors to truly communicate a playwright’s message. They are especially crucial when characters are literally unable to expressive themselves verbally. Such is the case in “R+J: The Vineyard,” Oracle and Red Theater’s new adaptation of Shakespeare’s ill-fated love story set within the ASL community on Martha’s Vineyard in the nineteenth century. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: No Beast So Fierce/Oracle Productions

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Photo by Joe Mazza,      Brave Lux. (From L) Katherine Keberlein as Richard III,      Mike Steele as Rivers,      and Erica Bittner as Queen Elizabeth.

Katherine Keberlein, Mike Steele and Erica Bittner/Photo: Joe Mazza, Brave Lux

The last time that actress Katherine Keberlein and director Max Truax collaborated together, the result was Oracle’s Jeff-Award winning production of Bertolt Brecht’s “The Mother,” with Keberlein herself in the lead role. The show was an intoxicating mixture of Brecht and Antonin Artaud—a stomping, beer-hall rally meeting. With “No Beast So Fierce” the two have reunited to take on Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” The results this time are far less rousing. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Tempest/Chicago Shakespeare Theater

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Nate Dendy, Larry Yando and Eva Louise Balistrieri (levitating)/Photo: Liz Lauren

RECOMMENDED

With all the magic in Shakespeare’s plays, “The Tempest” still stands out for its wizardry, with the magician Prospero using supernatural forces to both seek revenge and achieve closure for past wrongs done to him. So it makes a piquant kind of sense for world-renowned magician Teller (the silent half of the Penn & Teller duo) to choose to co-adapt/direct (along with Aaron Posner) this particular show by the bard. Read the rest of this entry »