Working for the (long) Weekend: Critics picks for 5/26-5/30

May 26, 2011

Kelly Kleiman

So what is there to do around this burg on Memorial Day weekend? Next week, well, that'll be something: the official start of summer, outdoor performances and festivals everywhere you look; but what about right now? Well, the good news is, the weather is supposed to be crummy (isn't it always?) so you won't regret spending a moment of your late-spring, early-summer time in a darkened theater. Check out:

New Rock Theatre, aptly described as "theater on the edge" for its location (of which more momentarily) and for its programming, especially the late lamented Point Break Live! in which an audience member got to play Johnny Utah. Nothing will replace that, but what succeeds it holds promise, too: The First (and Last) Musical on Mars, which threatens to set Klaatu Barata Nikto to music. Friday through Sunday til June 19 for only $15. Those of you who prefer a light-hearted romp should bypass the Club Stage and head straight for Macbeth, opening tonight on the mainstage. Thursday through Sunday til June 26, $20. The venue's on the second floor at 3933 N. Elston Ave: just south of Irving, just west of Kimball, just east of the Kennedy. Go in peace. 

Almost equally weird is Tracy Letts' play Bug at Red Twist Theatre in Edgewater. Red Twist received three Jeff nominations for best production this year, more than any other non-Equity theater, whereas the play represents our hometown Pulitzer winner at his most white-trash existential. Oh, and people get naked a lot. What's not to like? 1044 West Bryn Mawr in Edgewater; opens tomorrow (Friday) night and runs Thursday through Sunday til June 26. Tickets $25-$30.  

Laura Molzahn

Suddenly Amanda Timm is everywhere. Or so it seems. The 2009 Columbia College grad did the choreography for the ingenious War and Peace: A Dance-Theater Short a few weeks ago. And tonight and Friday her company, We Stand Sideways, is presenting its first full-length show, “Ta Da!”: The Assistant’s Revenge, using the magician/assistant relationship as a way of exploring male/female interactions. Magic, Timm says, is about “sleight of hand, distraction, and controlling the audience’s attention, and it is the assistants that help pull this off. They have to be quick on their feet and save the show if the magician messes up or if an illusion goes wrong. We wanted to point out that, although the illusionist might be the ‘magician,’ we (the assistants, the backup dancers, the women behind the scenes) are the magic.”

Musician Maggie Kubley, who fronts the band The Embraceables, plays assistant, magician, and narrator. Expect “farce-like misdirection, illusion, dance, nudity, and drag.” It’s unlikely you’d bring your kids to a 10 PM show, but… don’t bring the kids. It’s 21 and up. 

Jonathan Abarbanel

Most theater troupes are smart enough not to open a show on Memorial Day Weekend. Lots of folks leave town or, if the weather is good, they want to be outdoors and not in a playhouse. Besides, all those leathermen parading on Michigan Avenue are theater enough. You didn't know? Chicago plays host, May 27-30, to the 33rd International Mister Leather Contest, with several thousand leathered-and-rubbered visitors arriving from around the world. The contest itself is Sunday night at the Harris Music and Dance Theater. There's a subsidiary event for Ms. Leather, but IML largely is a guy thing and a gay thing and definitely on the wild side.

Now, if you require something more standard-issue, you might consider The Sign of the Four at City Lit Theatre Company in Edgewater. No leather, just murder, cocaine and the violin. As you may have deduced from the evidence, it's a world premiere adaptation of one of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories; in fact, the one that establishes the sleuth's drug habit and musical abilities. As he has before, the persuasive Don Bender takes on the role of Holmes for director/adapter Terry McCabe. The Sign of the Four runs through July 3.