Don’t-Miss List June 14-June 20: The Dueling Critics arm-wrestle Terry Teachout

June 14, 2012

Kelly Kleiman and Jonathan Abarbanel

Another pair of one-time-only events, plus the second-to-last weekend of a Midwest premiere.

Dueling Critics on Eight Forty-Eight,  91.5 FM and WBEZ.org, between 9 and 10 a.m. Friday June 15, FREE!

Jonathan and I will review Theatre 7's Exit, Pursued By A Bear. Then Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal will join us to discuss the use and abuse of theater criticism. It’s a call-in segment, so if you have any opinions about the value or format of reviews, please join us. And, as always, if you miss it on the air you can here us here on the site. –KK

What It’s Like to Be You, 7 p.m. Saturday June 16 at a private venue; tickets $20.

Ben Hollis, who used to host WTTW's Wild Chicago, has a new gig called What It’s Like to Be You, wherein he interviews five volunteers from the audience and then weaves their stories into an integrated whole, complete with music. It sounds like Extreme Improv-ing, with snacks and beverages included. For any shy types in the audience, the event’s organizers promise, “No one is interviewed without his or her prior consent, so relax and just watch.”  Contact ben[at]benhollis.com to reserve your seat with a credit card and get details like the location. –KK

Crooked, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday June 14 and 15, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday June 16 at Rivendell Theatre, 5775 North Ridge in Chicago; through June 23; tickets $28.50, $20 seats if you live in the ‘hood (Edgewater/Andersonville).

Rivendell is perhaps the only theatre company ever to escape the dreaded New Building Disease, in which the triumphant move to a new space is succeeded by three years of subpar programming.  Here the company goes two for two with a show about adolescent friendship and the toll adolescence takes on everyone including any mothers who happen to be in the way. Under Sandy Shinner’s direction, all three actresses shine; it’s particularly lovely to see Artistic Director Tara Mallen infuse the part of the wisecracking mother with her own warmth and honesty. Be there (this or next weekend) or be square–in the words of adolescents long ago. –KK

Belmont Avenue, and Theater Wit specifically, is the place to be this weekend as two outstanding Off-Loop theater troupes open shows back-to-back on Friday and Saturday. –JA

Goodbye Cruel World, Strange Tree Group at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; $25; through July 22.

Under the artistic leadership of frequent-playwright Emily Schwartz, the Strange Tree Group has carved a singular niche for itself with its heady combination of fantasy, physical theater, literary merit and period settings favoring the Edwardian and Victorian. Difficult to describe, Strange Tree Group does the sort of work Edward Gorey would have loved. This time, however, Strange Tree is staging somebody else’s play, Robert Ross Parker’s Goodbye Cruel World, a modern reworking of Nikolai Erdman’s 1928 Russian play, The Suicide, about a young man, his tuba, a hopeless world and exploitation. The Soviets banned Erdman’s original for 50 years. Will it seem as dangerous to us? –JA

Floyd Collins, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble at Theater wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; $22-$28 ($18 this weekend only); through July 15.

Down in Kentucky cave country in 1925, a falling rock wedged veteran spelunker Floyd Collins into the tube-like entrance to a cave. For 14 days and nights the world listened (thanks to then-new WGN Radio), read, prayed, dreaded and thrilled at the rescue operation which couldn’t free Collins in time to save him. This awesome 1994 musical is a remarkable contemporary folk opera, with a book by Tina Landau and Adam Guettel’s complex, contrapuntal score deeply influenced by country music and period jazz. It’s a theatrically vital show which touches the human spirit and the American spirit in ways both crass and profound. The BoHos have presented so many musical so well, one naturally expects they will do themselves proud with Floyd Collins. –JA