Red Noses Closing (Theater and Galleries) Recommended The Short List (Theater)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 15 2010

Matt Hawkins has directed Peter Barnes's 1985 comedy--about a 14th-century French monk who forms a clown troupe during the Black Plague--in the cheerfully manic style of the House Theater of Chicago, of which he's a founding member. Sometimes the House's preppy sincerity makes me want to hurl my playbill at the stage, but in this case it works freakishly well. Hawkins has stripped things down so that the show becomes a kind of communal happening. He's also updated the cultural references: the cast occasionally breaks into Reagan-era power ballads, perhaps to underscore the play's resonance with the AIDS crisis. The result is an exhilarating, hilariously unsettling meditation on the orgiastic response to mass human die-off. --Leon Hilton

Price: $15-$20


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