No ordinary theater weekend: What to see, when

October 20, 2011

Kelly Kleiman

This is no ordinary weekend in the theater world (what would that look like, anyway?). Theater Oobleck presents an art form you’ve probably never heard of, while Shattered Globe kicks off a series of staged readings of the plays that made its reputation.

Oobleck is first up, with its Baudelaire in a Box: Death and Other Excitements, which opened last night and continues through Sunday at Links Hall. The show, based on the poet’s stunningly twisted and troubling Les Fleurs du Mal, consists of “7 new cantastoria . . . with crankies designed and illustrated by Dave Buchen and songs by Chris Schoen.” Cantastoria, it emerges in a YouTube video posted by the company, are “singing pictures,” performances in which illustrations on the body of performer or elsewhere on the stage are explained in song. And before you race in the opposite direction, remember that this is Oobleck, which never does anything dull. As for “crankies,” well, in the spirit of my 5th grade book reports, “If you want to find out you’ll have to see the show.” Sheffield and Newport in Chicago, $15, “more if you’ve got it, free if you’re broke.”  

Then Sunday afternoon (if you can tear yourself away from watching American football in London–speaking of twisted and troubling!), head over to Stage 773 to watch a one-time-only reconstruction by the original director of Shattered Globe’s critically acclaimed Judgment at Nuremberg. What’s particularly cool is that every month through January the company will do another staged reading of another past success, and that the shows in question are The Manchurian Candidate, Talk Radio and A View from the Bridge.  Even if you didn’t see Shattered Globe in its first glory days, that package of shows should prove irresistible. $12 for this week’s performance (reception at 1 p.m., reading at 1:30), or $35 for all four.  

Also a one-time-only event: Chicago Live! the talk-comedy-music show hosted by Rick Kogan in the basement of the Chicago Theater and taped for broadcast on WGN Radio. Tonight's edition features a conversation with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and a performance by Bonnie Koloc. The doings start at 6:30; tickets $20, which includes the opportunity to buy drinks for the performers afterwards at the theater's cash bar. 

Laura Molzahn

Choreographer Faustin Linyekula comes from the bloodiest nation on the globe’s bloodiest continent. For decades the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been the battleground not only for DRC factions but for neighboring countries; though rich in minerals, it’s home to one of the poorest populations on the planet. Two engines drive Linyekula’s More More More … Future. One is politics. The other is ndombolo, a mix of traditional Congolese music, rumba, church fanfares, and funk—embellished here with punk music by guitarist Flamme Kapaya and his five-piece band. Supertitles translate poetry by political prisoner Antoine Vumilia Muhindo. Friday through Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

On the home front this weekend: Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago does its thing at the Harris Theater. Expect the upbeat, including Alegria(“Joy”) by Kiesha Lalama and Alloy, a romantic duet, by Autumn Eckman—both world premieres. Four works from the repertory round out the program.

And on the micro-dance scene: Andrea Cerniglia, a promising young choreographer, presents her Dropshift Dance at the Holstein Park Fieldhouse tonight through Saturday afternoon (such are the vicissitudes of performing on Park District stages…). Cerniglia’s thoughtful new Becomingis movingly inhabited by its five dancers and ingeniously staged in its unusual space.

Jonathan Abarbanel

First, there was a dedicated and naïve marine biologist, Dr. Randy Olson, who believed he could make a documentary film about global warming that would definitively convince all doubters and skeptics as to the truth of our deteriorating climatology. He couldn’t, and his efforts to do so resulted in the documentary film, Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy. At least Olson recognized the absurdity of his predicament. Now Off-Loop troupe New Suit Theatre offers a stage adaptation of the film as their third production. The live version of Sizzle: A Global Warming Comedy is performed at the Raven Theatre (Clark at Granville) through Nov. 13. FYI: the world IS getting warmer.


Also on the boards this weekend is a new production of Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man, the tale of John Merrick, an actual physical freak (due to a rare illness) in Victorian England who went from exploited sideshow attraction to a high scientific case study and darling of London society. The presenter, Saint Sebastian Players, says they are offering a Brechtian take on the play, which is set in a London where Jack the Ripper also is walking the streets. Among the alienation devices they are employing is cross-gender casting, with Romanian-born Simina Contras playing Merrick. The Elephant Man is presented at St. Bonaventure House (1625 W. Diversey) through Nov. 13.