Tab Show is powerful. Lucky plush has created an accessible performance that gives you an inside look into dance, only to ask the audience about their relationship with art in the abstract. The technical proficiency of the dancers, combined with impactful themes and powerful light and sound make Tab Show a solid production, albeit somewhat heavy handed in delivery. However, you will ultimately leave the show with complex questions and intrigued with the production’s overall message.
In the past few years, Victory Gardens’ productions have, in my mind, become synonymous with consistency. Whenever I attend a show there, I go in confident that whatever I will see is bound to be good--their company produces shows with persistently great sets, talented actors, interesting scripts, etc. While their latest foray, playwright Boo Killebrew’s Lettie, did not disappoint, it also failed to dazzle. The well-written play succeeds in its attempts to present an array of characters which we can sympathize with, even as they come from extremely different points of views, but the somewhat choppy narrative and its focus on white woman (when rates of incarcerated women of color are much higher) diminished the play’s overall effect.
In 2017, a Colorado baker found himself in front of the US Supreme Court after refusing to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple. Supporters and opponents of the couple’s lawsuit took to their various media platforms, propelling the suit into a viral national dilemma characterized by polarized opinions and vicious rhetoric, on both sides. It is these dialogues of divide, in an increasingly divided nation, that serves as the setting and theme of Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake--a delectable creation that gets to the ooey gooey center of our nation’s problems, even if its frosting is a little too sweet.
Standing tall in v formation, the soldier storytellers of Letters Home introduce themselves with a terse, in-medias-res quote from their respective monologue. The audience’s attention darts around the black box as the company of GIs offer flashes of the incredible lives detailed in their letters. It is a clever way to introduce the breadth of emotions contained within this show: some sound funny, some sound serious, and some sound absolutely harrowing. Letters Home is all of the above. While the production is not without some missed opportunities, Letters Home is a comprehensive look into the triumphs, costs, and humanity behind armed conflict.
Like Saturday Night Live, audiences know they can turn to The Second City for a response to what is happening in the world around them. Gaslight District, the 42nd revue from The Second City e.t.c., attempts to take on almost everything in the news from the past year or so. Thanks to the talented ensemble, the results are uproarious
I was told it would be best to go into Women Laughing Alone with Salad without reading too much into it. I am all for surprises, especially going into an institution such as Theater Wit where I am so often pleased with what I see - but it may have been detrimental in this case. I was expecting an unpredictable feminist comedy, and I'm still not exactly sure how to describe what I saw.
Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic for a reason - and it's understandable that many people are hesitant to take in an update of one of their most beloved favorites. Luckily, playwright Novid Parsi has updated the story masterfully in Silk Road Rising's current production of Through the Elevated Line.
It is difficult to describe a show like The Brink! Or Nobody’s Ever Kissed Me Like That. Part performance art, part experimental cabaret, and all parts surreal, The Brink! is a high-concept production that continually subverts audience expectations to create a genuinely unique and unnerving experience. The show takes the familiar and warps it into the fantastic: old jazz standards and recognizable motown pop are distorted, sped up, and slowed down to provide an uneasy backdrop for inventive acting, dancing, and live music. The works of Gertrude Stein and Ann Carson create vignettes between songs that provide powerful context to the imagery created by the cast. The production is the 60’s pop music of Leslie Gore as directed by David Lynch - a surrealism unlike anything I have seen before.
The Neo-Futurists have no trouble dominating late-night with their long-running hit The Infinite Wrench. The company is known for featuring a diverse and energetic young ensemble while tackling challenging material with humor and humility. Their primetime offerings, however, are much more of a mixed bag, and A Story Told in Seven Fights, which features virtually no story and little fighting, lands somewhere near the least successful of their productions I've seen.
Upon entering the lobby of Windy City Playhouse, guests are given an invitation which stipulates the ‘rules’ for the evening. Basically, you’re attending a birthday party in 1961. You’re an invisible guest in the characters’ home, eating and drinking (and moving) along with them as the events unfold. Immersive theatre rarely pays off, but Southern Gothic is masterfully handled from start to finish.