Corrupt cops and colliding queens: new Reader performing arts reviews | Bleader

Corrupt cops and colliding queens: new Reader performing arts reviews

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Southern Romeo serenades southern Juliet in Take Her to See the Maco Lights
  • Tom McGrath
  • Southern Romeo serenades southern Juliet in Take Her to See the Maco Lights
We don't keep records on this sort of thing, but based on my experience I'd say that Reader critics handed out an unusually large proportion of backwards Rs this week, recommending 11 out of 18 new productions. Either they've got spring/NATO fever or there are just a bunch of really good shows out there.

In a double review, Albert Williams expresses admiration for the American Theater Company rethinking of Rent and the Porchlight revival of Tick Tick . . . Boom!. Both musicals were written by Jonathan Larson, who famously died the day before the original production of Rent opened. Keith Griffith enjoyed the "whirlwind erudition" of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, at New Leaf Theatre, and the rough charm of Peter Pan’s Shadow Part Two: Everland, which is the latest entry in a new trilogy by Jeremy Menekseoglu. Jack Helbig liked the "beguiling simplicity and grace"—not to mention the "satisfying punch"—of Prologue Theatre's Romeo-and-Juliet-down-south show, Take her to See the Maco Lights. Julia Thiel fell in love with My Asian Mom, a collection of short works from A-Squared Theatre. And even I liked something enough to recommend it: Gorilla Tango's macabre musical goof on the 80s-era sitcom Full House, Attend the Tale of Danny Tanner.

But we're not out of kudos yet.

Laura Molzahn suggests you see "COLEctive Notions," a showcase of new choreography from members of Margi Cole's company. Kerry Reid says Writers' Theatre sings with Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Dan Jakes grants full citizenship to Teatro Luna's immigrant drama Living Large in a Mini Kind of Way. And Zac Thompson would walk a mile for Redtwist Theatre's version of the darkly comic Martin McDonagh play The Cripple of Inishmaan. Going by past performance, as it were, we also have a good feeling about "The Other Side of the Elephant," a festival of short plays by Curious Theatre Branch members and friends.

On the other hand . . . Justin Hayford argues that former Reader staffer John Conroy thought too much like a reporter and not enough like a theater artist in writing My Kind of Town. Based on Conroy's own investigation of torture committed by Chicago police, the play misses its dramatic potential while focusing on relatively minor mysteries. In the same review, Hayford dismisses Dog & Pony Theatre's The Whole World Is Watching as an earnest amalgam of "headlines, topic sentences, and bullet points" centered on the police riot that made the 1968 Democratic National Convention so notorious.

Meanwhile, our critics found the Side Project's Enola cloying, Promethean Theatre Ensemble's Henry V reductive, Northlight Theatre's [Title of Show] fun at first but progressively more tedious—and Ludicrous Theatre's Conquest of the Universe, or When Queens Collide just plain "unwatchable."

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