Gimme Some Sugar: A World Premiere at The Side Project; Also Some Illumination: Jonathan Safron Foer at Spertus

January 10, 2013

Sugarward, The Side Project, 1439 West Jarvis Ave in Rogers Park, Thurs-Sat at 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 3 p.m. through Feb. 10. Go to Brown Paper Tickets ($20, $15 for students and seniors, $10 Rogers Park “Rush”).

The Side Project has spent the past dozen years quietly doing fascinating work in a space tiny even by Chicago-storefront standards, one in which “fascinating” can quickly become “overpowering” or even “horrifying” if play and performance aren’t gauged just right.  Happily, in the world premiere of this stylized history play by Sean Graney, director Geoff Button and his extraordinary actors John Henry Roberts and Joel Ewing hit every mark.  Based in fact, Sugarward recounts the decline and fall of Governor Colonel Daniel Parke of Antigua, who (at least in Graney’s telling) arrives with good intentions—to mitigate slavery’s effects, in particular—and soon deteriorates into corruption and hopelessness.  None of the folks involved lean too hard on the contemporary resonance of efforts to make peace with utterly unacceptable conditions, as a result of which you’ll hear those echoes for days afterwards.
 

Jonathan Safran Foer, “Judaism, Writing and Inspiration,” The Spertus Institute, 610 South Michigan Avenue in the Loop, this Sunday (Jan. 13) at 2 pm; book signing to follow. Tickets start at $35.

The author of the novel Everything is Illuminated, whose adaptation by Simon Block opens next month at Next Theatre, here talks about–well, what the title says. The Spertus conversation is the first of a series of events designed to illuminate (forgive me) the history behind and subtext of the tale, including a Feb. 7 discussion of the book at the Book Bin in Northbrook and a Feb. 10 program at the Evanston Public Library promising “a behind-the-scenes look” at the Next production, directed by Devon de Mayo and opening Feb. 21.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated the Safran Foer event was free. Tickets for the event start at $35.