Altar Boyz may seem an odd fit for Theo Ubique - given the over-the-top nature of the show, this Off-Broadway hit seems more appropriate for a late night revival. However, director Courtney Crouse has staged his production perfectly, resulting in a heavenly good time for the religious and non-believers alike.
“Tracy Letts” has been a buzzword in my life since 2007, when I was first introduced to the masterpiece that is August: Osage County. The Pulitzer prize-winning playwright has such a knack for the specific kind of drama that I love most--gritty realism blended with dark humor--so it’s a slight understatement to say that I had high expectations going into his latest collaboration with director Anna D. Shapiro, The Minutes.
The title of Candace Chong’s Wild Boar describes an interesting phenomena, a curious coexistence of urban development and nature. As dramaturg Carol Ann Tan’s explains, the towering skyscrapers and rapidly increasing population of Hong Kong has somehow yet to drive away the native wild boars, which can still be seen roaming around the city blocks. This intriguing juxtaposition between the natural and artificial, between human order and natural chaos, is one ripe for exploring. And while Chong’s script attempts to unpack these issues, its overreaching and lack of focus ends up muddling any meaning entirely.
American Blues kicks off the Christmas season with their 16th annual production of It's a Wonderful Life: Live in Chicago!. Featuring an amicable ensemble and simple but stunning staging, the holiday hit playing at Stage 773 is pure holiday magic.
Please note: This production opens amid an ongoing investigation into sexual harrassment claims against Michael Halberstam at Writers Theatre. The internal probe has not yet been resolved.
There exists in the theatre world a misguided notion that any script with elevated language, be it Shakespeare, Marlowe, or even Wilde, need be approached in one of two ways: as over the top as possible, with actors shouting and leaping about to educate us poor, illiterate audience members; or, alternatively, as blandly as possible, with actors making little to no choice in “allegiance” to the text itself. I’m not sure what theatrical god imposed this horrible commandment, but it’s one that many a production has suffered via following.
Fade is a relentless play that wastes no time: moments after the two characters are introduced, their quick assumptions about each other’s racial identity and social status create instant, palpable tension. Shortly after, this tension erupts into a heated argument which creates platforms for the characters to voice their views on the ongoing identity crisis of Latinx people in Trump’s America. Plot points, character development, and social issues are all introduced and explored at a breakneck pace, and I loved it.
Upon entering the theatre for 1980 (Or Why I'm Voting for John Anderson), I expected to see a political comedy in true ‘now more than ever fashion’ - one that would tackle current issues through a nostalgic lens, particularly the role of a third party candidate in a national election. Unfortunately, Patricia Cotter's play is more of a sitcom with a campaign office backdrop. Yes, the election is what brings the characters together, but the show’s focus is much more of a workplace comedy, one that checks off all the typical boxes: the lost new girl, a scandalous affair, and the wealthy shrew who may secretly be a better person than she lets on. Luckily, the energetic cast manages to foster some genuine comedic and touching moments, making this show an enjoyable if not original one.
A classic romantic contains a number of recognizable characters: the nerdy, only moderately attractive best friend, the love-struck or recently heart-broken ingenue, the classically handsome but probably misunderstood man; of course, all of these characters, traditionally, are white. Yasmina’s Necklace takes the Owen Stage at the Goodman Theatre (following a successful run at the 16th Street Theater in Berwyn) and attempts to redefine these stereotypes, using the classic formula with which we are so familiar but featuring two Muslim characters in the leading roles.
When the “dream freaks” descended from space last night at 1616 N. Wells St, the obscure opening seemed to place the audience in that state of confusion and discomfort reminiscent of watching Tim and Eric Awesome Show for the first time. Sober. Luckily, upon landing, the show became much more down to earth, and the next two hours were filled with a series of well-timed sketches and quick-witted punch lines delivered by an especially talented cast.
Volo Publius is a complicated character. The masked man stands for classic superhero sensibilities, standing up for the downtrodden and thwarting government corruption at every turn. But vigilante justice raises its own complexities that Volo and his associates have to deal with: how far is too far? Do the ends really justify the means? At what point does heroism become fanaticism? The Making of a Modern Folk Hero by Other Theatre sees the hero narrative applied to modern day social activism but only somewhat capitalizes on its potential. While it gains marks for inventive use of set design and some sharp dialogue, the overall narrative unfortunately feels a tad too disjointed to deliver a completely satisfying performance.