J. and K. assess this world-premiere musical about the Haymarket bombing and its sequelae. We’re enthused: what can you expect from a pair of old lefties? Plus: K. raves over The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hansberry, now running at the Goodman.
We review the world premiere of Shepsu Aakhu’s newest play Feral, about police shootings and the media circus which follows them, and then K. recommends The Lion in Winter by Promethean Theatre Ensemble at the Athenaeum.
We’re not sure if it’s a comedy or a drama, but we agree that the world-premiere production of Ike Holter’s play at A Red Orchid Theatre is great work.Michael Shannon’s troupe delivers, even without Shannon.
When I was in my late 20s I wrote a novel about various adventures I’d had in my earlier 20s. I was pleased with this accomplishment until another writer asked me, “What’s your book about?” Stumped, I blurted out, “She sleeps with a lot of people.” “How nice for her,” she replied. Needless to say, that novel is still in pristine manuscript form on the top shelf of my office closet.
Elise Spoerlein’s A Phase, now receiving its world premiere at Broken Nose Theatre, is my novel onstage. Sam[antha], reeling from a painful breakup, sleeps with a lot of people til she realizes this doesn’t actually prove anything; end of play, as telegraphed by the title. Along the way there’s a lot of witty dialogue between Sam and her mother, Sam and her best friend (appearing solely by text message), and Sam and her sex partners. The dialogue is well-delivered, which is partly a tribute to Spenser Davis’s skill as a director and partly to the fact that the author also plays Sam.
Playwright Spoerlein has a fine ear and a strong comic touch; actress Spoerlein has appealing delivery and a commendable absence of vanity. But none of this a play makes. She should put A Phase on the top shelf of her office closet, and keep writing.
A Phase continues at The Den in Wicker Park through March 26.
We consider The Artistic Home’s world premiere whodunit about a murder in a Southern town and the connections between two families whose secrets and lies make Yoknapatawpha County look like the confessional. Plus, J. recommends the farce The Explorers’ Club at the Windy City Playhouse.
Danielle Pinnock takes up the mantle of Anna Deavere Smith in this world premiere piece, produced by Rivendell in association with Waltzing Mechanics. This one-woman show actually features dozens of people, first interviewed and now expertly portrayed by Pinnock under the direction of Megan Carney. We follow her search for answers to questions about body image, media ideals and the connection between food maladies, on the one hand, and self-hatred and sexual abuse, on the other. Pinnock is pitch-perfect in her renditions, particularly of her Jamaican grandmothers but also of men both gay and straight, women both cis- and transgender and people of every level of education and income. If there’s a woman in the world who can’t identify with Pinnock’s struggles, I have yet to meet her. Highly recommended. It only runs through the end of the month and Rivendell is not huge, so get your tickets ASAP.