Don't-Miss List September 27 - October 3: Scotland in Chicago, 'HooDoo Love'

September 27, 2012

The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, National Theatre of Scotland at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Navy Pier); 1-312-595-5600; $5.-$60; through Oct. 14

Technically, this ain’t no Halloween show — but it could be! In a piece scarcely more than a year old, the National Theatre of Scotland (returning to Chicago for the second time) has combined supernatural stories and border ballads with inspirations as diverse as Scots-boy Robert Burns and American journalist/poet Robert W. Service. The result, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, is an intimate evening of storytelling, the kind you might find in a snug Scots pub, or around a cowboy campfire. It’ll be performed in the 200-seat Upstairs Theater at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

Metamorphoses, Lookingglass Theatre, 821 N. Michigan Avenue (Pumping Station), 1-312-337-0665, $46-$70; through Nov. 18

Like the Scots, director and adapter Mary Zimmerman has taken a lot of short stories and combined them into a complete evening, only her source material is the Roman poet Ovid, whose Metamorphoses used both Latin and earlier Greek sources to create an epic work of myth and fable, focusing on the transformations wrought by gods and nature upon humans, and why. Zimmerman first put this show together a decade ago with Lookingglass here in Chicago, and then took it to Broadway where she won two Tony Awards for it. Now its back, revived for the first time in the Lookingglass permanent theater in the Water Tower Pumping Station. It’s a water play, to be sure, featuring a swimming pool of Lake Michigan’s Best as the center of the scenic concept.

HooDoo Love, The Collective Theatre at The Atheneum, 2936 N. Southport; 1-773-935-6875; $32; through Oct. 21

A brand-new troupe offers a Chicago premiere as its first show, so I can’t attest to the quality, but the new kids on the block have good credentials. The Collective is the first new African-American theater company in town in a very long time, and their first offering is an award-winning play by Katori Hall, although she had to go to London to win an Olivier Award. HooDoo Love is based in the Blues and in the spell a deep amorous attachment can cast; y’know, when two folks really get their hooks into each other, for better and for worse. This play has the added dimension of being set in the South of the 1930s. For this company debut, The Collective Theatre Company has secured Nelsan Ellis, of HBO’s True Blood, as the director. In fact, Chicago-born Ellis is one of the founders of The Collective, which marks a return to the Windy City of an ensemble who began their theater careers here.