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Rhinoceros Theater Festival

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The Curious Theatre Branch's 15th annual showcase of experimental theater, performance, and music from Chicago's fringe runs through 11/20 at the Curious Theatre Branch, 7001 N. Glenwood. Admission is $12 or "pay what you can"; for information and reservations, call 773-274-6660.

Following is the schedule through 10/4; a complete schedule is available online at www.chicagoreader.com.

FRIDAY 1

RCant

It's not easy to negotiate the subject of motherhood--to chart a course between the Scylla of sentimentality and the Charybdis of gleeful attack. Veteran solo artist Jenny Magnus makes the attempt in Cant, a 45-minute monologue (with songs). She deals with the subject by portraying various characters: good mothers, bad mothers, a self-absorbed young father, the hard-bitten mother of a mother, and a lactation consultant/nurse's assistant. Magnus embodies her characters brilliantly, and her newness as a mother gives this piece its freshness, its emotion, its honesty, and--for better or worse--its indirection. (LM) 7 PM (double bill with White Suit Science)

RNWhite Suit Science | By turns satiric, sarcastic, surreal, and painfully sincere, Shawn Reddy's new play defies easy description. The hour-long piece begins as a discussion of Mark Twain and the myriad ways his memory has been cheapened, particularly by impersonator Hal Holbrook and Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri. But soon enough, under the guise of com-edy, Reddy and his ensemble of deconstruction workers (Joe Binder, Jessie Fisher, Rick Lazarus, and Beau O'Reilly) engage in a fascinating postmodern analysis of whiteness, especially white suits in popular culture, and the ongoing whitewashing of history. In one of the strongest sections, Reddy reveals how far the contemporary citizens of Hannibal have gone to erase the central role played by slaves in Twain's youth. In this tourist trap, bristling with references to characters from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, there's nary a mention of runaway slave Jim. --Jack Helbig

A Dangerous Ornithology

"A prison camp worker . . . is caught in a circle of murder, sex, and ritual" in James Owens's new drama. 9 PM

SATURDAY 2

Hit Me Like a Flower

Beau O'Reilly directs his own script about a therapist who moves to the east coast to keep tabs on her long-estranged college-student daughter. 7 PM

The Authentics

Paula Gilovich penned and codirected this empty, annoyingly mannered dark comedy about an airplane crash survivor. The acting is far better than the script, a shaggy-dog story that involves one stereotyped character after another. (LM) 9 PM

SUNDAY 3

John Starrs and Kristy Lockhart

The spoken-word artists offer "stories (and stories inside stories) about guns and jails, and perhaps about stories themselves." Lockhart also performs Laura's Bush, a one-woman political lampoon by "Jane Martin," the pseudonymous author(s) of Talking With . . . 7 PM

MONDAY 4

The Big Promise

Bryn Magnus reads from his new novel about a self-pitying, antisocial fringe playwright's attempt to redeem himself in the eyes of his teenage son. 7 PM

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