Don’t-Miss List April 26-May 2: Springsteen in Ravenswood and 'Iceman Cometh'

April 26, 2012

by Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel

Deliver Us From Nowhere: Tales From Nebraska, 8 p.m. Thursday through May
20 at The Right Brain Project, 4001 N. Ravenswood; tickets $12


Social commentator Thomas Frank wants to know What’s the Matter with Kansas?, but the
Tympanic Theatre is eager to show us what’s right with Nebraska. Bruce Springsteen’s album of the same name provides the inspiration for a series of 10-minute plays, each based on a song. And in case that’s not enough cross-genre work for you, every week of the run a different musician will perform his/her own music based on the plays. Performances Thursday-Sunday. -KK

No Shame Theatre, 10 p.m. Saturday the 28th at Luna Central, 3914 N. Clark; open run; tickets $7 (for performers and audiences alike) or $6 with a social media post

“Chicago’s only weekly theatrical open mic” (according to its sponsor, The Agency Theatre
Collective
) takes up residence at the home of Teatro Luna, an arts center run by Chicago’s only all-Latina theater. Here’s an SAT analogy: No Shame Saturday Nights are to aspiring performers as Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind is to veteran Neo-Futurists: an opportunity to try out work so short it hardly matters if it fails. The No Shame process is pretty wide-open: The first 15 people to arrive work in hand on any given Saturday night become the evening’s entertainment, offering an intermission-free series of five-minute plays. The shows are in keeping with The Agency’s eclectic aesthetic of engagement -- this sort of come-one, come-all effort alternates with straightforward political work like the company’s recent timely revival of Clifford Odets’ Paradise Lost. Either way, they’re worth watching. - KK

The Iceman Cometh, Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn Street, through June 17. Tickets, $53.50-$133. Runs 4 hours 30 minutes with three intermissions; evening curtain 7 p.m.

As is true of many other theater directors, Robert Falls has certain touchstone plays he's returned to more than once during his 35-year career. Eugene O'Neill already is one of Falls' favorite authors, and now he's tackling The Iceman Cometh for the second time as Goodman Theatre artistic director. Not only that, but Falls is joined again by his friend and fellow O'Neill junky, Brian Dennehy. First time around (in 1990), Dennehy took the plum central role of Hickey, the hail-fellow-well-met traveling salesman who's the life of the party at Harry Hope's glum circa 1912 bar. This time, Dennehy takes the smaller role of aging anarchist Larry Slade and leaves Hickey's big shoes to the inimitable Nathan Lane, who definitely is making a theatrical stretch in taking on this complex role of a man at the end of his tether. One of the season's most anticipated productions. -JA

Timon of Athens, Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, through June 10. Tickets, $55-$75

Timon is a man of wealth, conviviality and generosity who witnesses how the world shuns him when his gold is gone, turning him sour and cynical. But how will Timon treat the world when his fortunes are restored? Shakespeare's Timon of Athens spent a couple of centuries on the back burner, so morally thorny did directors and audiences find it. In the last 30 years, however, it's come roaring back and now seems to offer perfectly appropriate, if pungent, commentary on our times. Chicago Shakespeare Theater takes on Timon with artistic director Barbara Gaines at the helm and with acclaimed Scots actor Ian McDiarmid in the title role. Yes, he played Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars, but Timon is equally dark in his own way. -JA