Post image for Chicago Theater Review: FLY BY NIGHT (Theo Ubique)

BLACKOUT LOVE Winsome and warm-hearted, Fly by Night is an affecting chamber musical which premiered in 2014 at Playwrights Horizon. The two-act labor of love by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick and Kim Rosenstock celebrates human connectedness, most pointedly in love. In their tender-hearted, tough-minded work—an Our Town where the place is NYC–the connections are also […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: TUG OF WAR: CIVIL STRIFE (Chicago Shakespeare Theater)

KILLER ROSES AND A HUNCHBACK HORROR As disease follows famine, the 100 Years War succumbed to the War of the Roses. It makes sense that the titles of the two parts of Barbara Gaines’ massive compilation Tug of War are “Foreign Fire” and, now, “Civil Strife.” Whether a ground-grabbing feud between 15th-century England and France or […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: VISITING EDNA (Steppenwolf)

LETTING GO, NOT GIVING UP This is a long and leisurely play that generically examines the leaving of life–as in how, when, why and where to say goodbye. Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s world premiere Visiting Edna, by Tony-winning David Rabe (author of the Vietnam War saga Streamers), is a major debut for the Tony-winning troupe to launch […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: HAND TO GOD (Victory Gardens Biograph Theater)

FIVE FINGERS, ONE JOKE Unholy rolling, Hand To God is a one-joke coming-of-age comedy, a Twilight Zone episode on steroids. Robert Askins’ two-act 2011 travesty treats demonic possession as a schizophrenic rite of passage: A twisted teenager suddenly takes orders from the hand puppet at the end of his arm. Hell breaks loose. A Victory […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH (Greenhouse Theater Center)

WHEN YOU WISH UPON A THEME PARK You just know that the title The Happiest Place on Earth is ironic–or, like Ringling Brothers’ “greatest show on earth,” bombastic. How could it not be, given the subject? Over the last 66 years, Disneyland, Walt’s first conceptual amusement park, has become a byword for bourgeois escapism from […]

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Post image for Los Angeles Theater Review: AND THEN THEY FELL (Brimmer Street Theatre Company)

FELLED Brimmer St. Theatre Co. only puts up a play when it thinks it’s got one worth doing, and always one that it has developed in-house. Some years it doesn’t produce anything but readings. This seems to me a better plan than that of many companies that fill ten slots a year with whatever they […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: WONDERFUL TOWN (Goodman Theatre)

GOODMAN GIVES GOTHAM GLORY Wonderful indeed. Wonderful Town, Leonard Bernstein’s 1952 tribute to the ever juicy Big Apple, has been wrongly overshadowed by the other N.Y.C. musicals he wrote before and after—On The Town and West Side Story. It more than holds its own. With captivating lyrics by the wizard team of Betty Comden and […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: IN THE HEIGHTS (Porchlight Music Theatre at Stage 773)

LIGHTS OFF BUT LIVING LARGE In The Heights, a two-time Tony-winning 2008 musical, celebrates a place that doesn’t quite reward the torrid devotion of its likable characters. They both delight in and want to depart from Washington Heights in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a close-knit neighborhood populated by Hispanics from Puerto Rico, Cuba and the […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: LIFE SUCKS (Lookingglass)

DEATH BY COMMENTARY Glib, pat, and smug, Aaron Posner’s Stupid Fucking Bird disrupted and deconstructed Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. Audiences loved it for its bratty, “in-your-face” 21st century bravado. Now a Midwest premiere by Lookingglasss Theatre Company, Posner’s latest updating (downdating is a better term), Life Sucks is not to be confused with Mel Brooks’ […]

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Post image for Chicago Theater Review: JULIUS CAESAR (Writers Theatre in Glencoe)

MAKE ROME GREAT AGAIN Julius Caesar: It’s a strong choice for an election year, a timely reminder of why we prefer peaceful changes of power to assassinations and their inevitable knee-jerk revenge. It’s unsurprising that Shakespeare’s most political play centers on a political murder, the ultimate act of censorship, whether done in togas or, as in […]

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