Clowns and crazies: new Reader performing arts reviews | Bleader

Clowns and crazies: new Reader performing arts reviews

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A classic case of the lunatics running the asylum, in
  • Tom McGrath
  • A classic case of the lunatics running the asylum, in Marat/Sade

Allowing the the original sadist, the Marquis de Sade, to stage a play with a cast full of lunatics can only lead to trouble. And sure enough, all hell breaks loose in the insanely brilliant Right Brain Project staging of Peter Weiss's 1963 masterpiece, Marat/Sade. Also recommended: Chicago Dance Crash's smashing answer to mindless superhero flicks, Gotham City. And if Gotham's clown-faced villains are too creepy for you, there's a gentler circus in the charming operetta The Circus Princess. Kerry Reid likes Paul Stovall's sharp, painfully funny Immediate Family, while Zac Thompson suggests you take in Collaboraction's booze-bedecked annual playfest Sketchbook, which has more heft this time around.

Even as fresh-faced young directors and designers are debuting in Steppenwolf Theatre's Next Up repertory, Broken Nose Theatre is exploring sexual debuts in My First Time.

Several of this week's new productions offer multiple one-acts, but most fall flat. Neil Simon's 1976 collection of four shorts, California Suite, gets a dead-on-arrival revival from Black Elephant Theater, and some of the travel stories in Tellin' Tales Theatre's Bad Trips may make you wish you'd stayed home. John Patrick Shanley didn't intend for Savage in Limbo to be seen as a series of separate pieces, but Strange Bedfellows Theatre doesn't do much to connect its melodramatic monologues. Samuel Beckett, Andre the Giant, and Daniel Day-Lewis all have cameos in the two scripts comprising The Rorsky Plays. And if Circle Theatre's Almost an Evening is the best of the collected-works lot, it's only because of the cast's "goofball enthusiasm."

Reviewing a production of The Ruby Sunrise that ran two years ago, the Reader's Tony Adler commented that he'd "be kind of interested in seeing a bad production of this play." Now he's been given his chance: a new mounting at the Second Stage fails to elicit much excitement from critic Dan Jakes. Justin Hayford finds the jukebox musical Hank Williams: Lost Highway somehow both rushed and lumbering.

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