Critics theater picks for 7/8-7/12

July 7, 2011

Kelly Kleiman

It's verisimilitude weekend, apparently: Theater on the Lake is presenting Griffin Theatre's Letters Home, a collage of letters to and from soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Originally staged in 2007 (which reminds us just exactly how long these wars have gone on), the production is paying a flying visit home before continuing its national tour which this fall range from Florida to Oregon. Letters Home's performance in Dallas on Veterans' Day will be presented on CBS Radio; but you can see it live tonight through Sunday at Theater on the Lake, Fullerton and Lake Shore Drive; tickets are $17.

But not all ripped-from-the-headlines theater is serious. Indeed, what could be funnier than a play about corrupt Chicago politicians and the reporters who are wise to them? Timeline Theatre is betting that the answer is, "a conversation about corrupt Chicago politicians by the reporters who are wise to them." Following this Sunday's 2 p.m. matinee of The Front Page, the theater presents a panel of journalists discussing the Blagojevich scandal, trial, verdict, retrial and verdict. (Don't worry, there's a time limit of one hour.) "Exclusive! Chicago's Top Reporters on The Front Page: Same Story, Different Century" is free and will begin at about 4:30; tickets to the performance are $42.  Timeline is at 615 West Wellington in Lakeview.

Laura Molzahn

Take a walk on the wild side with en route, a tour of the city that opens—OK, it’s not this weekend, it’s next Tuesday. But it’s something you may not want to miss—apparently it goes way above and beyond bored and boring tour-guide drivel. Five Melbourne-based theater artists devised the piece for Chicago, so no one knows what will happen here. But reviewers went wild over similar excursions in Melbourne, Adelaide, and Edinburgh, calling the experience totally enthralling, revelatory, exuberant, breathtaking. Apparently words fail. Though en route is media-savvy—people will be squinting at text messages and preoccupied with MP3 players, as usual—the company aims to counteract city-induced isolation by provoking engagement. Including with other people!

The Eye on India Festival opens Friday with a one-night-only performance at the Harris by Indian classical violinist Dr. L. Subramaniam—and Chicago’s Natya Dance Theatre and Chicago Children’s Choir. Among the selections they’ll perform are two from Sita Ram, which some might remember as Lookingglass Theatre’s exhilarating 2006 musical-comedy-meets-Indian-myth production with Natya and CCC. An impressive piece of storytelling and pageantry, it’s just one of the valiant efforts Natya has made to bridge the gap between East and West.