Child's play it's not.
Not exclusively, anyway. Sure, the annual Stages, Sights & Sounds fest boasts significant kid appeal. But the actors, dancers, acrobats, and puppeteers participating in this spring appetizer for next fall's Chicago Humanities Festival promise performances innovative enough to satisfy even full-grown arts enthusiasts. All five shows:
It's hard to say which sounds tougher—battling Lex Luthor to save the Midwest's high-speed rail system or acting out said battle on a three-by-seven-foot platform sans set or props. Chicago's own Theater Un-Speak-Able takes on the latter task in Superman 2050 (Wed 5/2-Sun 5/6, various times, Josephine Louis Theater, Northwestern University, 20 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston).
Speaking of "theater unspeakable," not a word is spoken in The Postman (Wed 5/2-Wed 5/9, various days and times, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago), as France's Velo Theatre relates the tale of a mail carrier who discovers a magical adventure among his packages.
"Gentle," "mischievous," and "funny" aren't the first adjectives people associate with King Lear. But they've been used to describe Nearly Lear (Thu 5/3-Sat 5/12, various days and times, Josephine Louis Theater), in which Toronto-based actor Susanna Hamnett presents Shakespeare's tragedy from the perspective of the foolish king's fool.
Neither the laws of gravity nor a stage-dominating wall can hold back Montreal's DynamO Theatre. The acrobatic troupe perform Mur-Mur (Sun 5/6-Sat 5/12, various days and times, Museum of Contemporary Art), the story of five young people living around a brick barrier.
Japanese-born, Prague-based puppeteer Nori Sawa fuses cultures. Using paper cutouts, masks, and music, he reimagines stories like "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Tortoise and the Hare" in Fairy Tales. (Wed 5/9-Sat 5/12, various times, Josephine Louis Theater).