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Also recommended: The latest edition of the Waltzing Mechanics's El Stories features the tale of an Englishman trying to hit every CTA train stop in record time. That turns out to be the production's only disappointment, says Asher Klein. The rest of this documentary play shows how Chicagoans of all backgrounds come together on the el. Tyla Abercrumbie's lifelong man troubles are the main attraction in her 70-minute solo piece Naked and Raw. And Luna Negra Dance Theater introduces Chicago to Monica Cervantes's simultaneously controlled and savage choreography in "Luna Nueva" at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Arcas Productions's Beowulf comes off like a Judd Apatow bromance, says Tony Adler, only it's dead serious. He's more receptive toward Writers' Theatre's one-woman show The Blonde, the Brunette, and Vengeful Redhead, but still finds Deborah Staples's performance limited. Philip LaZebnik and Kingsley Day's State Street, meanwhile, is intentionally anachronistic but ends up feeling more dated than it means to be.
This year's Cirque Shanghai is less adventurous than previous editions, according to Jack Helbig; the show provides all the requisite acrobatics, but nothing overwhelms or really catches the eye. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather meets Shakespeare in David Mann's Corleone: The Shakespearean Godfather, a funny concept that ultimately falls flat.
Crow, too, is more interesting as an idea than onstage. Ironically, Jeremy Sher's piece about a man circumnavigating the world goes nowhere. Wes Perry, on the other hand, does a good job with his growing-up-gay show, Don't Act Like a Girl. Mark Blane tackles the recent slew of suicides among bullied LGBT youth in The Rock and the Ripe, but goes for surreal artiness when the simple truth would do. Similarly, director Max Truax defeats himself in trying to make a mind fuck of an 1816 E.T.A Hoffmann story in The Sandman.
Finally, we pick highlights from the very long TBS Just for Laughs roster.