In case you're wondering, a moraine is a heap of earth and stones carried and deposited by a glacier. But there's also ample deeper meaning within Ryan Patrick Dolan’s new play, which follows four friends dealing with a fifth friend’s cancer treatment. As comics like Julia Sweeney and Tig Notaro have shown, the devastating disease can still be funny, and Dolan’s got the smarts to avoid wallowing in sadness. In turn, director Mary Rose O'Connor has the smarts to involve a brilliant cast, several of whom are improvisers trained in the ancient art of actually listening and responding onstage. As Mark, a bro trying to keep things as they've always been, Caleb Fullen pushes hard to find depth and humor in a character who could be all too unlikable. The result is the opposite of glacial. —Chloe Riley $15
A collection of videos from the artist. Fri 3/13, 5-8 PM.
Jungjin Lee's photographic exploration of Israel and the West Bank.
August Wilson's Two Trains Running, the seventh in his ten-play Pittsburgh cycle, is a drama of thwarted hopes and stagnation. It is 1969. Malcolm X is dead. Martin Luther King is dead. And though only Malcolm is mentioned by name, the ghost of King hovers over the proceedings, contributing to the miasma of desperation. All of Wilson's characters are stuck in one way or another. Memphis, the play's protagonist, is about to lose his diner to urban renewal, but city hall won't pay him the price he deserves for the property. Sterling, just out of prison, can't get a job in the steel mills because he isn't in the union, and he can't join the union because he doesn't have a job in the steel mills. Hambone just wants the ham he was promised. Continue reading >> $25-$79
Based on the 2005 David Cronenberg film of the same name, Bare Knuckle Productions' adaptation offers a thrilling mix of poignant drama and animalistic violence rarely seen in live theater. The story, written and adapted by Cody Evans and Jeff Newman (who also directed), centers on Tom, a midwestern family man whose diner is the social center of his small Iowa town. After he makes quick, eerily professional work of killing two hoods who try to hold up his restaurant, Tom becomes a media darling, and questions arise about his history and unique skill set. As Tom, Craig James Jr. metamorphoses from amiable father to cold-blooded killer in a manner both shocking and raw. And Gary Murphy plays the perfect wise-guy foil as Carl Fogarty, an unwelcome guest from Tom’s past who's seething with rage beneath his impeccable manners. Smoother transitions between scenes, with less jarring music, could help the story’s fluidity and emotional pacing. —Marissa Oberlander $15-$20http://bareknuckleproductions.org
Emergent Theatre Company gives an airy, pleasant staging to Neil Simon’s 1969 comedy, in which the long-married owner of a seafood restaurant decides to cheat on his wife using his mother’s tidy, cramped apartment as the site for his trysts. His would-be seductees—a clinically depressed housewife, a socially oblivious stoner, and a sexy inveterate philanderer—are game until he reveals his ideas about the weaker sex, antique even then. But what’s embarrassing for him is entertaining for us: Simon’s jokes are still fresh 45-plus years on, even if Jim Saltouros is never quite nebbishy enough as the hapless male protagonist. That aside, a poised, funny, perceptive cast make this production warmhearted and surprisingly nuanced. —Jena Cutie $20http://emergenttheatre.org
John Patrick Shanley brings us another play stocked with witty misfits and eloquent losers. The action is set in rural Ireland, but the issues—love, life, fear, loneliness, death—remain the same as those he explores in better-known New York-based works like Doubt (2004) and Moonstruck (1987). Age seems to have mellowed him and deepened his latest play, just off Broadway, a moving comedy-romance whose last 15 minutes are sublime. For this Northlight production director BJ Jones has enlisted A-list performers who know how to bring the best out of the script; Kate Fry in particular shines as that trademark Shanley character, the strong but scarred woman emotionally entangled with a weak, distant man who's afraid to grow up, here ably played by Mark Montgomery. —Jack Helbig $25-$78
Richard Nelson's Apple Family plays center on four adult siblings and their elderly Uncle Benjamin. In That Hopey Changey Thing, the family gathers for dinner on Election Day 2010; Sorry takes place two years later, on the day Benjamin is to be checked into a retirement home. Both plays (there are two more in the series, though they’re not being performed here) feature long debates on politics and American mores, but the atmosphere owes less to Crossfire than the funny-sad humanism of Chekhov, whose Three Sisters is an obvious influence. In Louis Contey's perceptive staging, the script is matched in intelligence and feeling by an excellent cast that includes Janet Ulrich Brooks as the stalwart eldest sister and Mike Nussbaum as poor, muddled Benjamin. —Zac Thompson $35
Northwestern undergrads curated this exhibit featuring the work of the painter and printmaker. The collection of 18 of the French master's lithographic works depict Paris in the 1800s.
Lanford Wilson’s cacophonous 1964 drama takes place in a rundown Manhattan diner frequented by hookers, junkies, pushers, bums, and others on the margins of society. The characters’ lives may be a hopeless hustle, but the overall effect is one of rambunctious vitality, thanks to the script’s loud, overlapping conversations and show-offy speeches filled with rage and desperation. In this Griffin Theatre Company revival, director Jonathan Berry fails to find the music in the noise, letting his 31-member cast mug and overplay in lieu of building a cohesive ensemble. The play’s seedy atmosphere is further compromised by inauthentically clean-cut actors and Mieka Van der Ploeg’s faintly nostalgic early-60s costumes. These nighthawks look about as threatening as the T-Birds in Grease. —Zac Thompson $35http://griffintheatre.com
Cornell University physicist and playwright Hasan Padamsee’s goal of bringing science to the masses is admirable but ill achieved in this show from Genesis Theatrical Productions. The story focuses on the clash between astronomer Edwin Hubble (best known now for the telescope named after him) and Albert Einstein, which resulted in today’s view of the universe as ever-expanding and creation as stemming back to the Big Bang. As the upstart Hubble, Tim Moan doesn't offer much charisma or passion to go with his groundbreaking ideas, and though at the center of play, he's disappointingly eclipsed by peripheral characters like the stubborn astronomer Harlow Shapley, played by R. Scott Purdy. The scientific jargon, from redshifts to Cepheids, is overused and difficult to parse throughout, and while the reading of newspaper headlines between scenes gives some context, the significance and importance of Hubble’s contributions never quite come across. —Marissa Oberlander $30http://genesistheatricals.com
Back in 2011, and then again in 2013, Court Theatre presented one of the best shows I've seen on a Chicago stage: An Iliad. Building on Robert Fagle's English translation, adapter/deconstructors Denis O'Hare and Lisa Peterson turned Homer's Trojan War epic into a bravura solo (performed by Timothy Edward Kane) that not only retold one of the founding stories of Western civilization but sent it vibrating up through the generations, into our time, and across our spines. So imagine how happy I was to hear that O'Hare and Peterson had turned their attention to another essential document—the Bible—with the results set to run at Court in a production featuring an all-star ensemble led by Hollis Resnik and Alex Weisman. Continue reading >> $45-$65
An exhibition highlighting the different ways in which artists explore the relationship between body and identity.
In paintings, Varda Caivano depicts the various stages of creating art. Reception Sun 2/22, 4-7 PM.
Sculptural work from Noël Morical and Max Byron Garett. Reception Sat 3/28, 6-9 PM.