Theater Reviews

Review: “The Night Alive”

Review: “The Night Alive”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through Nov. 16 Tickets: $20-$82 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Playwright Conor McPherson is a master at creating ordinary men who’ve screwed up their lives. Usually suffering from grief and loss, they’re nearing the end of their resources when a twist(…)

Review: “King Lear”

Review: “King Lear”

RECOMMENDED Where: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier When: through Nov. 9 Tickets: $48-$78 Phone: 312-595-5600 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic None of the productions of “King Lear” I’ve seen have provided a viscerally convincing reason for the title monarch’s misguided decision to divide his kingdom among his three daughters while he’s still alive. Until now.(…)

Review: “Both Your Houses”

RECOMMENDED Where: Remy Bumppo Theatre Company at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Nov. 9 Tickets: $42.50-$57.50 Phone: 733-404-7336 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic An idealistic young congressman from a Western state comes to Washington, D.C., to help pass a bill he believes in only to find that his fellow legislators have(…)

Review: “Amazing Grace”

SLIGHTLY RECOMMENDED Where: Bank of America Theatre, When: through Nov. 2 Tickets: $33-$100 Phone: 800-775-2000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic The treatment of a minor character epitomizes one of the many problems with the slickly staged and well-sung pre-Broadway world premiere of “Amazing Grace,” the musical by Christopher Smith (music, lyrics, book) and Arthur Giron(…)

Review: “Smokefall”

Review: “Smokefall”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through Oct. 26 Tickets: $25-$81 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Plenty of contemporary plays are thought-provoking, but Noah Haidle’s “Smokefall” is that rare work that actually makes you feel the love, loss and mystery of life that are the subjects of(…)

Review: “A Kurt Weill Cabaret”

Review: “A Kurt Weill Cabaret”

RECOMMENDED Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre at the No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood Ave. When: through Oct. 19 Tickets: $25-$29 Phone: 800-595-4849 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Kudos to Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre for having the moxie to include the entire “Mahagonny Songspiel” in “A Kurt Weill Cabaret.” The evening also benefits from the(…)

Review: “The Game’s Afoot”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Drury Lane Theatre, 100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace When: through Oct. 19 Tickets: $40-$50 Phone: 630-530-0111 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re a fan of mystery-thriller send-ups full of slapstick and sight gags, you’ll have a good time at Drury Lane Theatre’s production of Ken Ludwig’s “The Game’s Afoot.” The play(…)

Review: “The Commons of Pensacola”

Review: “The Commons of Pensacola”

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED Where: Northlight Theatre, North Shore Center for the performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie When: through Oct. 19 Tickets: $25-$78 Phone: 847-673-6300 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Actress Amanda Peet’s “The Commons of Pensacola” revels in contemporary relevance, and the Midwest premiere directed by Robin Witt at Northlight Theatre features topnotch acting, but(…)

Review: “Native Son”

Review: “Native Son”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave. When: through Oct. 9 Tickets: $45-$65 Phone: 773-753-4472 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Actress Nambi E. Kelley’s 90-minute adaptation of “Native Son” takes some striking liberties with Richard Wright’s seminal 1940 novel, but they pay off dramatically in Court Theatre and American Blues Theater’s world premiere,(…)

Review: “Death Tax” and “Isaac’s Eye”

Review: “Death Tax” and “Isaac’s Eye”

BOTH SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED “Death Tax” Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company Water Tower Water Works, 821 N. Michigan Ave. When: through Oct. 12 Tickets: $40-$65 Phone: 312-337-0665 “Isaac’s Eye” Where: Writers Theatre, Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe When: through Dec. 7 Tickets: $35-$75 Phone: 847-242-6000 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Two prominent companies are opening(…)

“Stupid F***ing Bird”

“Stupid F***ing Bird”

RECOMMENDED Where: Sideshow Theatre Company at Victory Gardens Richard Christiansen Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave. When: through Sept. 21 Tickets: $20-$25 Phone: 773-871-3000 ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Adam Posner describes his “Stupid F***ing Bird” as “sort of adapted from ‘The Seagull’ by Anton Chekhov,” but it’s more like he’s totally deconstructed the 1895 play, analyzed(…)

Review: “My Name is Asher Lev”

Review: “My Name is Asher Lev”

RECOMMENDED Where: TimeLine Theatre Company at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. When: through Oct. 18 Tickets: $37-$50 Phone: 773-327-5252 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic TimeLine Theatre Company’s 18th season gets off to an auspicious start with the Chicago premiere of “My Name is Asher Lev,” Aaron Posner’s adaptation of Chaim Potok’s best-selling 1972 novel(…)

Review: “Ecstasy”

Review: “Ecstasy”

RECOMMENDED Where: Cole Theatre at A Red Orchid Theatre, 1531 N. Wells St. When: through Sept. 28 Tickets: $15-$25 Phone: 773-747-6821 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Based on the brief first act, you’d expect Mike Leigh’s 1979 “Ecstasy” to be one of those rage-fueled, violence-wracked British “kitchen sink” dramas of the Thatcher era (though it premiered(…)

Review: “On the Town”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire When: through Oct. 12 Tickets: $40-$48 Phone: 847-634-0200 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you’re familiar with “On the Town,” it’s probably because you’ve seen the 1949 MGM movie about a trio of World War II sailors’ day off in New York City starring Gene Kelly(…)

“All Our Tragic”

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Where: The Hypocrites at the Den Theatre, 1329 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through October 5 Tickets: $75, $30 for partial show; call for details Phone: 773-525-5991 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic If you see The Hypocrites’ premiere of “All Our Tragic,” founding artistic director/adapter/director Sean Graney’s mash up of the 32 surviving Greek tragedies,(…)

“The Qualms”

“The Qualms”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Theatre Company Downstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through August 31 Tickets: $20-$86 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Bruce Norris won a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award for “Clybourne Park,” but the Steppenwolf Theatre world premiere of “The Qualms,” his latest, isn’t very satisfying as a play. Four couples(…)

Review: “Brigadoon”

RECOMMENDED Where: Goodman Theatre, Albert Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St. When: through August 17 Tickets: $25-$97 Phone: 312-443-3800 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic When I was an adolescent, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “Brigadoon” was one of my favorite musicals. I can’t remember exactly why. Maybe it was because the idea of an 18th(…)

Review: “Othello”

RECOMMENDED Where: The Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. When: through August 24 Tickets: $20-$35 Phone: 773-285-7071 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic Othello” at The Gift Theatre represents a few firsts: the first time the 13-year-old company has presented a play by Shakespeare, the first time director Jonathan Berry has tackled the Bard, and my(…)

Review: “This Is Our Youth”

RECOMMENDED Where: Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted St. When: through July 27 Tickets: $20-482 Phone: 312-335-1650 By ANNE SPISELMAN Theater Critic I’ve been working on thinking of Kenneth Lonergan’s “This Is Our Youth” as Chekhov for the slacker generation. This isn’t as farfetched as it may seem. Like Chekhov, Lonergan exposes the existential angst(…)

Review: “The Dance of Death”

RECOMMENDED Where: Writers Theatre, Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon Ave., Glencoe When: through Aug. 3 Tickets: $35-$70 Phone: 847-242-6000 The three characters in August Strindberg’s 1900 “The Dance of Death” are nasty pieces of work—and that’s putting it mildly. Factor in the new version by Irish playwright Conor McPherson, Henry Wishcamper’s direction, a trio of(…)