I like weird. Especially oddball venues, which catapult even the most jaded viewer into fresh ways of seeing theater. They can’t redeem a production, but they’re pretty much guaranteed to boost the interest.
1. Basements: instant horror story. In April, the elusive Slimtack Theatre staged three Harold Pinter one-acts about torture in the basement of the director’s Uptown apartment building. We hung out first in the living room of director Mike Rice, then all filed downstairs to sit on folding chairs around a marked-off, lit “stage.” The rest of the dank, cavelike space was dark. And chilly. “Death to Fascism, Freedom for My People” was no blockbuster, but the flushing toilets and footsteps overhead made everyday life seem both tantalizingly close and impossibly distant.
2. Public parks famously offer few rigging opportunities. Yet last summer Theatre-Hikes, which specializes in ambulatory outdoor shows, chose to mount J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” in Peterson Park. I saw it on a beautiful day, so maybe it was the weather and the cheerful crowd—but when the actors told us that a little corner of the forest was the Darling family home, I believed them.