I find it pretty shocking how much of someone’s dating life is considered to be in the domain of polite small talk. Acquaintances, distant family relatives and even coworkers are prone to ask about romantic involvement at any given point in time; a reductionist check-up on a subject matter so personal and complex it's usually impossible to put into a single sound bite. Society can put a tremendous amount of pressure to be with someone, lauding it as a benchmark of emotional and social stability. All while having defined expectations as to how the opposite sexes should perceive each other romantically.
Cirque Dreams has many different productions and ensembles touring at once, apparently due to an audience demand for their theatrical circus hybrid. Their holiday offering, Holidaze, is playing through the weekend at the Chicago Theater. While you may find yourself awed by some of the physical endeavors, Cirque Dreams' production is more akin to theme park entertainment than anything resembling a tour with a premium price tag.
There are few things more ‘Chicago’ than the CTA. You’ve probably taken the red line to see a friend up in Rogers Park, the blue line to O’hare, or a bus to get to North Avenue Beach. You also most likely share in the city-wide love/hate relationship with the service. You can laud the convenience of the brown line and then curse a twenty minute delay in the same breath. Universal, though, is the ‘El Story’ - a tale of an odd scene witnessed by the teller while riding transit. These can be hopeful, funny, crazy, or (most likely) gross. El Stories: Holiday Train is a theatrical collection of these stories with a seasonal flavor to it, mixing in vignettes of the famous holiday train and tales of Santa on the flatbed car. While certain stories hit their stride and capture what makes an El Story engaging, the overall experience feels a little too disjointed to fully recommend.
At first glance, the premise of Danai Gurira’s Familiar is a well-known story; the challenges of uniting two families via marriage have served as fodder for many a romantic comedy or sitcom. In Gurira’s take, though, the conflict stems more from the generational, cultural, and religious differences within the bride’s family exclusively, as wedding nuptials force them to cope with long-unspoken beliefs and truths. With depth, humor, and warmth, Gurira’s nuanced exploration of evolving customs and culture elevates this classic tale into a wholly new story.
Goodman Theatre's annual production of A Christmas Carol returns for its 41st year. I attended last year, calling the show "pure holiday magic,” and, while this remains true, some of the sparkle is lost in the production's lack of risks in direction and design.
Too often, the first thought that pops into my head upon exiting a production is “why this play?” The question arises not from a lack of merit but one of intent: of all the scripts available, why produce this particular production? What is the company or playwright trying to say? How or does it relate to current events?
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.