Spoon River Anthology | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Spoon River Anthology

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I can't think of a better way to meditate on our "national values" this election season than by seeing this stark, intimate production by Theo Ubique Theatre Company. Edgar Lee Masters's 1915 volume of verse epitaphs--essentially monologues by the unquiet souls in a central Illinois cemetery--ripped the veil from small-town passions and hypocrisy; in 1963 Charles Aidman and Naomi Caryl Hirshhorn set about 70 of these epitaphs to a folk-music score. Under Fred Anzevino's skillful direction and backed by musical director Michael Miller on piano and Richard Veras on fiddle, the six ensemble members use their clear, soaring singing voices to find the aching pathos, humor, and hunger in Masters's timeless tales. When a dead Civil War soldier asks about the words on his tomb--"'Pro Patria.' What do they mean, anyway?"--the piece feels numbingly contemporary.Through 11/14: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. No Exit Cafe, 6970 N. Glenwood, 773-743-3355. $12-$15.

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