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Rhinoceros Theater Festival

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Rhinoceros Theater Festival

This annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago's fringe began as part of the Bucktown Arts Fest; now it's hosted by the Curious Theatre Branch. Taking its name from surrealist painter Salvador Dali's use of the term "rhinocerontic" (it means real big), the Rhino Fest celebrates its tenth anniversary with shows by such local notables as Theater for the Age of Gold, Lucky Pierre, and the Penlight Theater.

The Rhinoceros Theater Festival runs through October 2 at the Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln, 773-327-6666; admission is $10 or "pay what you can." Following is the schedule for the festival's closing weekend, based on information available Monday.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

Nebraskoblivion

Chris Conry's one-act purports to be the last fragments of a play by Nebraska recluse "Joe Whyte" exploring themes of love, brotherhood, and domestic terrorism. "As directed by Susanna C. Gellert, the players never deviate from the playwright's concept, . . . retain[ing] a straight-faced aplomb through even the most absurd transitions," says Reader critic Mary Shen Barnidge. 8 PM.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1

Movie Stars Live Here

See Critic's Choice. 8 PM.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2

Facts and Figures

The Penlight Theater presents Eric Ziegenhagen's new work, a two-person drama about long-distance telephone conversations between a traveling management consultant and her boyfriend. "Ziegenhagen's naturalistic script . . . doesn't offer many surprises. . . . But for this playwright the ends aren't nearly as important as the means: ultimately it's [his] direction . . . that makes Facts and Figures stand out. [His] minimalist lighting design [is] a simple but powerful choice: short of having his actors phone in their performances, [he] could not have come closer to staging actual phone conversations. . . . In the hands of a less accomplished pair of actors, the tightly wound Facts and Figures might have unraveled into another tedious exercise in one-dimensional performance. But part of what makes the script so convincing is the remarkable chemistry between John Roberts and Anne Fogarty," says Reader critic Nick Green. 8 PM.

The Problematic Cartoonist

Writer-actor Jeff Dorchen "weaves a caustic tale of a self-indulgent New Yorker cartoonist locked in battle with a self-righteous critic/fan whose loudmouth daughter suffers from a rare condition that causes her bones to outgrow her body. Dorchen [is] one of the few playwrights in town who could bring such disparate strands together into a compelling and meaningful narrative," says Reader critic Justin Hayford of this Theater for the Age of Gold presentation. 10 PM.

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