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Critics' theater picks; 'Fresh Dances' and 'Fillet of Solo'

Jonathan Abarbanel is out this week, but Kelly Kleiman is in -- with double the picks!

Kelly Kleiman

This is the last weekend for Fillet of Solo, Lifeline Theatre's showcase of solo performers. Don't miss Holy Sweat!, the latest six-pack of monologues from the Sweat Girls (so called because their first show was the unforgettably-named I'm Sweating Under My Breasts). The performers, including Lifeline's Artistic Director Dorothy Milne, explore everything from the existence of God to the impact of floods on family relationships with a perfect balance of humor and sentiment that never degenerates into sentimentality. They're on Thursday and Saturday nightd, both at 7 p.m., at Lifeline, 6912 North Glenwood. Tickets are $10--which is less than you'd pay for most movies, and certainly less than you'd pay for anything nearly as good. For a complete list of Fillet performances see

Meanwhile, it's the only weekend for the second annual Chicago Theatre (anti-) Conference, running Friday night through Sunday at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. It's hard to describe exactly what's anti-establishment and underground about a theater conference co-sponsored by the League of Chicago Theatres, but the point seems to be that speakers are limited to 12 minutes and then every session turns into a free-for-all of questions, opinions and debates. Topics include how to rescue your theater when it's collapsing, the meaning of an "ensemble" theater identity and how to use stage violence without killing your actors. Register in advance for $45 or pay $75 at the door--prices which include three parties and two lunches. Go to to register.

If your weekend extends to Monday night, and you have kids, check out the new show by Barrel of Monkeys at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland. It's still called That's Weird, Grandma, but new director Molly Brennan (described in the press release as "Long-Standing Company Monkey") has assembled an entirely new show featuring stories from the 2011 school year. 8 o'clock every Monday through August; $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Finally, Pornography at Steep Theatre was even better than I expected it to be. And somehow it's comforting to watch the world coming to an end in England in 2007 while the world is coming to an end in the U.S. in 2011. Let's hear it for schadenfreude!

Laura Molzahn

Getting in on the ground floor, via promising young talent, is my theme this week. 

A few years ago I laughed—but more often I cried—at a national poetry slam at Columbia College. I went so I could see my niece-in-law, who’d traveled from New Mexico to compete, but I left with a fresh appreciation of this moving art form.  Louder Than a Bomb is Chicago’s very own slam, featuring 60 area high schools—and taking center stage in a 2008 documentary. This weekend, LTAB founder Kevin Coval and current and alum slam poets perform English Class Hereticsat Victory Gardens. The two-day showcase inaugurates a year-long collaboration, culminating in a work to be produced at the Biograph next summer. 

GET DOWN/PICK UP Company offers “Fresh Dances” (Photo by Emily Miller)

The GET DOWN/PICK UP Company offers “Fresh Dances” Friday through Sunday at Link’s Hall, featuring five choreographers from up-and-comers Kate Corby and Dancers, Laboratory Dancers, MaryAnn McGovern, and We Stand Sideways.

Ian McCabe wrote and directs his first show at Second City/Donny’s Skybox Theatre, running Saturdays at midnight and opening this weekend. With the unappetizing title of Tasteless Cake, it is devoted to “Sperm. Pluto. Mime. Satan. Three Doctors. And a Gun,” it says here online. In the grand SC tradition, it sounds pretty tasteless to me. 

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