Not many events are able to sustain a seven-year run in the Windy City, making us increasingly curious about The House Theatre's The Magic Parlour starring Dennis Watkins. What does one even expect at an intimate magic show like this, and could it possibly live up to the hype? The answer is a resounding yes, in that The Magic Parlour is a truly baffling and exciting experience from start to finish.
It should come as a surprise to no one that women in science face discrimination; from the prevalence of the well-known riddle about a father and son in a car accident to the frequently cited study published in January 2018 revealing frightening gender bias in scientific field statistics, this issue has, at the very least, been recognized in American culture.
But how do we fix it?
Since its Broadway premiere in 1995, Terrence McNally’s Master Class has been a popular pick on the high school speech team circuit; after all, McNally’s biting portrayal of real-life opera singer Maria Callas lends itself well to the short, humorous two-person scenes common in those competitions. Yet, as TimeLine Theatre Company’s production of the piece illustrates, the play is full of laughs but short on substance, even when presented with an insanely talented cast.
I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing the Tony-award winning Broadway adaptation of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or its national tour, but word of mouth reviews focused on one thing: the spectacle. Known for its stunning visuals, those productions focused on exploring the interior of Christopher’s mind through the sensory overload that he often experiences. Instead of mimicking this much-acclaimed approach, though, Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ (SYA) season opener instead turns the spotlight on the relationship between the characters. It’s an intense focus on the particulars that sets our protagonist Christopher Boone (played by Terry Bell) apart from his family and friends; and it’s by highlighting the show’s emotional nuances that director Jonathan Berry’s bare bones production resonates.
Artistic deconstruction is a powerful tool. Subversion of expectations and a focus on context rather than content creates a platform for art to address uncomfortable ideas. Why are you, the audience member, enjoying the violence in a film? The catharsis of a crime? The dark paths of serial killers?
It’s intense questions like these that Interrobang Theatre Project’s production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit asks. After all, what does it say about you, the audience, when you become apathetic in the face of tragedy? White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a brilliant, if somewhat unrefined, show; a unique experience that asks you to address complicated questions.
Indecent is the story of the creation, production, and impact of The God of Vengeance, a Yiddish play written in 1903 infamous for its portrayal of a lesbian romance inside of a Jewish brothel. The main playwright, Sholem Asch, is condemned by his Jewish community for his creation, citing his romance plot as obscene and warning that his portrayal of Jews will only serve to stoke the growing wave of European anti-semitism. Nevertheless, The God of Vengeance becomes a smash hit in Europe and eventually is brought overseas to New York for its Broadway debut. There is contention, however, when American producers attempt to censor the play and as fascism rises in central Europe.
Steppenwolf’s world premiere Downstate was, at times, a difficult show to watch. The subject matter is one which has, rightfully, been at the center of public discourse the past few weeks and is an especially sensitive matter for many, including me.
I think one of the easiest traps to fall into when describing something is amazing is to gloss over the details. Stating that something is or was incredible, but stopping short of explaining why it is extraordinary is inherently a hollow claim. And it’s, unfortunately, a sinkhole that Writers Theatre fell into with their most recent production, Witch. The impeccable theatrical elements characteristic of Writers’ shows--excellent costume design, strong acting, and pristine stage direction--make for a very aesthetically pleasing play. Beneath this pristine facade, though, is a mesh of elements that never quite come together. While the production’s polish and entertainment factor can be high at times, Witch is unfortunately less than the sum of its parts.
The classic mid-life crisis plot does not come close to the troubling revelations exposed in Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, currently being presented by Interrobang Theatre Project in their new home at Rivendell Theatre. Penned in 2002 and skyrocketed to immediate success, this tragi-comic play explores the emotional upheaval of a family coping with their 50 year old patriarch’s confession that he’s sleeping with Sylvia--no, not a hot young 20-something--a goat.
There are moments in everyone’s life of narrow misses; moments where you avoid a car accident by an inch or a quarter turn of a wheel or perhaps something which passes by without your noticing. But as quickly as these instances occur, just as swiftly do they oftentimes fade away, being pushed back into the realm of the unthinkable.