Court Theatre’s ‘Photograph 51’ asks “What if?”

Dr. Rosalind Franklin in Anna Ziegler’s Photograph 51, is an exacting and brilliant scientist, one whose vital contributions to the world might have been all the more exciting had the field of science made room for her. Court Theatre’s production of Ziegler’s play is a stylish examination of the prejudice and misogyny that Dr. Franklin confronted while researching DNA at King’s College in London, England post World War II. Continue reading “Court Theatre’s ‘Photograph 51’ asks “What if?””

‘Tedium and Other Sensations’ – Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

Tedium and Other Sensations, as featured in the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, is the product of a massive collaboration. Mocrep, The Neo-Futurists, and Theater Oobleck converge to explore and adapt the written work of Chicago playwright, Mickle Maher. The result, a two-part event that left me questioning everything I know about time, food, and theatre. Continue reading “‘Tedium and Other Sensations’ – Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival”

Queer Regency Reigns in ‘I Know My Own Heart’ at Pride Films and Plays

“I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like anyone I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work.”

– Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (1782)

Queer people, folks who defy expectations and bring vital complexity to life simply by being, have always existed. In every part of the world, wherever there were people, there were also queer people. How these ancestors are remembered, if at all, is a matter of who is telling their story. Directed by Elizabeth Swanson, I Know My Own Heart is drawn from the life of Anne Lister, an early 19th century British landowner and traveller, and told in her  words. It is a ritual of remembering. Continue reading “Queer Regency Reigns in ‘I Know My Own Heart’ at Pride Films and Plays”

A Vital and Gritty ‘In The Blood’ at Red Tape Theatre

Red Tape Theatre performs In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks at The Ready in Ravenswood. The theatre is a narrow strip covered in graffiti. It’s fresh, and I can tell because the scent of paint is unmistakable. Among this jumble of tags, the word “SLUT” screams in a bright pink that adds to the cruelty of the word. Hester (Jyreika Guest) is a downtrodden mother of five who has made the space under an overpass her home, a home now defaced with this vile word she has no way of reading. It is under this bridge where Hester cares for her children and is cared for by no one. Continue reading “A Vital and Gritty ‘In The Blood’ at Red Tape Theatre”

‘We Found a Hat’ Takes the Wisdom of Sharing to the Preschool Crowd

Lifeline Theatre’s musical adaptation of Jon Klassen’s children’s book, We Found a Hat, shows a friendship put to the test. The play, adapted by Jessica Wright Buha and directed by Manny Tamayo follows two turtles, Sizi (Amanda Roeder) and Kai (Terry Bell), on a journey from their summer habitat to their winter burrow. To get there they must traverse a perilous desert. A meddling Cactus (Scott Sawa) makes a bet with the optimistic Sun (Gabriella Fernandez) that he can drive a wedge between these close friends. The setup has echoes of the devil betting God he can throw Job off his goodness game. The turtles unwittingly fall victim to this mean-spirited social experiment designed for The Cactus’s entertainment. The Cactus, personified as a menacing cowboy with a southern drawl and an excessively large hat, takes off said hat and leaves it in the path of the turtles, jumpstarting the conflict of the play. Continue reading “‘We Found a Hat’ Takes the Wisdom of Sharing to the Preschool Crowd”

‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ is a Whirlwind of Camp and Horror

Evil Dead: The Musical written by George Reinblatt produced by Black Button Eyes at the Pride Arts center feels unlike many theatrical experiences I’ve had before. It’s directed by Black Button Eyes production’s leading director Ed Rutherford, who knows how to stage the supernatural. The patrons coming in were all buzzing full of energy, excited to be sitting in the splatter zone. Some were wearing safety glasses to protect themselves from fake blood while others had on all white, prepared to embrace the messiness of the show, as rock music blared through the speakers. Continue reading “‘Evil Dead: The Musical’ is a Whirlwind of Camp and Horror”

‘Red Rex’ is the Clapback Chicago Theatre Never Knew it Needed

Ike Holter’s Red Rex takes a deep dive into the underbelly of making theatre in Chicago, and a brave ensemble of people at Steep Theatre rose to the challenge. The sixth play in the Rightlynd Saga directed by Jonathan Berry gets its name from the fictional theatre company at the center of the narrative, Red Rex Theatre Company. After almost a decade of relatively mediocre production Red Rex has recently taken up residence in the abandoned former home of the Three Lord Gang – one of many easter eggs from the rest of the Rightlynd Universe (the RU, you know, like MCU).  Continue reading “‘Red Rex’ is the Clapback Chicago Theatre Never Knew it Needed”

‘Dada Woof Papa Hot,’ a Family Drama at About Face Theatre

Our present moment invites more conversations than ever about the kind of world we want to live in and whether the behaviors of our predecessors is worth emulating. Dada Woof Papa Hot, Peter Parnell’s rather absurdly named play, asks some very straightforward questions about American home life and the value of the nuclear family. The playwright uses the lens of sets of two sets of gay dads who have young children in the same school. They decide to be couple friends and try to use their bond to navigate fatherhood and their relationships together. Continue reading “‘Dada Woof Papa Hot,’ a Family Drama at About Face Theatre”

‘Fuente Ovejuna’ at City Lit Revisits a Different Kind of Golden Age

Let me start off by saying how happy I am that City Lit Theatre is doing Fuente Ovejuna by Lope de Vega. I love this script, I’ve always loved this script, and all of me wishes that it was done more. A huge booming “THANK YOU” to City Lit and director Terry McCabe for taking on their own adaptation of a painfully underproduced classic. From Spain’s golden age of drama, Fuente Ovejuna is Lope de Vega’s best-known work. A village revolts against a predatory authoritarian who uses his military and religious “power” to justify and prey upon the women of the rural town. The revolutionaries in this story are the women, which is particularly refreshing once you remember that the script was first published in 1619. This play has everything: love, war, drama, humor, history, and relevance. Continue reading “‘Fuente Ovejuna’ at City Lit Revisits a Different Kind of Golden Age”

Love, Life, and Loss: ‘Little Women’ at Brown Paper Box Co. is a Balm for Troubled Times

Strawdog Theatre is always a lovely space to walk into; I’m a sucker for small, intimate blackboxes, and the alley seating and soft music playing as you file into Little Women, produced by Brown Paper Box Co., is quite calming. The set (designed by Jeremy Hollis) is simple and straightforward in all the right ways, with just a few leather trunks serving as both scenery and furniture. On the ceiling and by both entrances are panels of darkened wood that are evocative of 1800’s New England architecture while remaining unobtrusive. Continue reading “Love, Life, and Loss: ‘Little Women’ at Brown Paper Box Co. is a Balm for Troubled Times”