Burning Bluebeard | Theater Wit | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Burning Bluebeard Recommended Member Picks The Short List (Theater) Image Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Dec. 15-Jan. 4 2015

The clowning artistry is disturbingly effective in the Ruffians’ 100-minute romp through the history of Chicago’s Iroquois Theatre fire, which killed more than 600 people during a 1903 performance of a musical called Mr. Bluebeard. Six impish, gracefully bumbling figures prance through an irony-soaked metatheatrical routine that gives voice to a handful of fire survivors while investigating the myriad failures that caused such carnage. It's creepy and charming, if occasionally precious, overrelying on steampunk faux naivete and Danny Elfmanesque music to do the emotional heavy lifting. While playwright Jay Torrence concocts a lot of significant-looking gestures that ultimately signify little (actors earnestly hand audience members mason jars full of white lights, then eventually take them back), the final, meticulous recounting of the Iroquois’s last moments is horrifyingly gorgeous. —Justin Hayford

Price: $36-$45

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