Monday, June 13, 2005

All The City's A Stage (Weekend Reviews)

One of the truly great things about Chicago is the constant abundance of live theater. Far beyond the Loop -- where two of the biggest and best musical spectacles of recent years, Wicked and The Lion King will run all summer and at least in Wicked's case, much longer -- north, south, east (relatively east, at least) and west, you can almost always find something worthwhile to see. With the help of the wonderfully useful HotTix, I saw all three of the shows below -- all world premieres -- for a total of $35, or less than a nose-bleed seat to The Lion King. And while the lack of air conditioning in a couple cases made for creature discomfort and none of the shows was truly fantastic, each was well worth taking a look at, certainly for the price.

Dave Davinci Saves The Universe
Viaduct Theatre
Unfortunately, it was so hot in this out of the way theatre on Western, just south of Belmont, that I could not fully appreciate the merits of this inventive story and staging as sweat cascaded down my back. The show was somewhat confusing and perhaps not worth the effort or discomfort, but overall I would give it a thumbs up just for attempting something unique.

Martin Furey's Shot
TimeLine Theatre
Inspired by real-life photojournalists covering strife, and armed conflict, in South Africa just prior to Nelson Mandela's election in 1994, the interesting subject matter of this play was a bit better than the writing itself, but I liked it quite a bit. There was very interesting background material to read in the lobby and while the theatre was quite warm, compared to the night before, it felt almost breezy.

Red Light Winter
Steppenwolf Garage Theatre
Probably the most high-profile of the three plays, this world premiere by Adam Rapp -- who wrote the insanely intriguing Blackbird -- had an interesting premise, some sharp, culturally-savvy dialogue and strong performances, but was just too long and somewhat misguided. Two mismatched friends are in Amsterdam where they interact with a prostitute. Despite the length, it was highly watchable, but while many great plays are somewhat ambiguous, I'm not sure what Rapp was trying to say.