Drama from the '80s – but which century? | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Lost love and gender politics: Another light-hearted week in Chicago theater

Burn This, Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont; 773-975-8150; opens Thursday and runs through November 18; $32.

A larger than life Strindberg. (Flickr/Camilla Nilsson)
Lanford Wilson’s play is very much of its time, the ‘80s, in that it features not one but two gay characters whose sole function is to make sure straight people find happiness. OK, so one of them is dead; still. Nonetheless, his study of four people looking for love in all the wrong places retains its full vigor in Linda Gillum's muscular production. It’s intimate, funny and ultimately deeply romantic. See it with someone you love. (KK)

The Father, Rendition Theatre at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark, 773-728-8111; opens Thursday and runs through November 17; $15-$20

Or, if by “the ‘80s” you mean the 1880s, Rendition Theatre’s production of this Strindberg tragedy might be for you. Strindberg, like his Scandinavian contemporary Ibsen, specialized in problem plays – the problem being gender and sexual politics. His work often feels more contemporary than material composed many years later. And performing the Swedish playwright’s work at a Swedish institution in a once-Swedish neighborhood adds an extra touch of verisimilitude. The theater assures us that the play is funny, but we’ll have to see about that. (KK)

Assassins, presented by Billy Pacholski; Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western; 1-312-212-3470, $47.57 (with service charge); runs through Nov. 10

Stephen Sondheim's score for this musical (book by John Weidman) is a true American pastiche filled with cakewalks, folk ballads and gospel with references to Sousa and "Hail to the Chief." It's all quite fitting in a work about the men and women who've shot — or tried to shoot — the president. The dramaturgy is bit fractured as Lee Harvey Oswald comes after John Hinckley Jr. and Squeaky Fromme, but there's no denying that Assassins taps into the dark underbelly of The American Dream, pointing to the subculture of violence and weaponry which have been part and parcel of American history from the day Europeans arrived to stay. This production eschews the usual carnival shooting gallery setting for Assassins in favor of an intimacy which puts the players almost in-your-face. The show benefits greatly from unamplified voices, an excellent little orchestra and constantly-morphing video projections. (JA)

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