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The best things to do in Chicago this month,
selected by our culture criticsFebruary 2016

Theater
Dramas

Othello
James Vincent Meredith as Othello and Bethany Jillard as Desdemona in Othello Photo: Jeff Sciortino

ANIMALS OUT OF PAPER

Through 2/27 When a divorced origami artist meets a calculus teacher with a young student for her to mentor, her life changes dramatically. $33. Shattered Globe Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. sgtheatre.org

THE AWAKE

2/14–3/12 Dreams and reality merge in the lives of a struggling Middle Eastern Canadian, an Eastern European housewife, and a mama’s boy in this trippy Ken Urban drama directed by Josh Altman. $15–$20. First Floor Theatre at Flatiron Arts Building, 1579 N. Milwaukee. firstfloortheater.com

BEAUTIFUL AUTISTIC

2/4–3/14 In Scott Woldman’s play set in Chicago in the early 1990s, an uncommonly handsome young man named Jimmy searches for love in the bars of Wrigleyville. $13–$33. Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago. chicagodramatists.org

BRUISE EASY

Through 2/14 The last time Dan LeFranc premiered a show at American Theater Company (The Big Meal), it became one of the biggest hits in the theater’s history. This time around, LeFranc points his pen at suburbia, where two estranged siblings reunite under duress at their childhood home. Joanie Schultz helms the proceedings. $38–$48. American Theater Company, 1909 W. Byron. atcweb.org

BYHALIA, MISSISSIPPI

Through 2/14 A black baby born to white parents sparks an exploration of race and racism in a small Southern town in Evan Linder’s (5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche) new drama. $15–$20. Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee. thenewcolony.org

COCKED

2/12–3/13 With Fair Use and The Kid Thing, playwright Sarah Gubbins demonstrated her smart, witty chops. Her latest work is no different, telling the story of Taylor and Izzie, an upscale Andersonville lesbian couple whose relationship is put to the test when Taylor’s troubled brother shows up. $20–$60. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln. victorygardens.org

THE DUCHESS OF MALFI

Through 2/20 The ever-adventurous souls at Trap Door tackle John Webster’s 17th-century tale of a fiercely independent woman and the two brothers who are determined to control her sexually, financially, and politically. Christopher Marino oversees the sex- and violence-ridden proceedings. $20–$25. Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland. trapdoortheatre.com

EDUCATING RITA

2/12–3/13 Borrowing loosely from Pygmalion, Willy Russell’s two-person drama follows the transformation of a gum-smacking, chain-smoking hairstylist into a smooth-talking intellectual under the tutelage of an alcoholic professor. $15–$38. Citadel Theatre, 300 S. Waukegan, Lake Forest. citadeltheatre.org

 

THE FLICK

2/4–5/8 Dexter Bullard directs Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning exploration of a dying movie house and the three underpaid cinephiles whose passion transcends stale popcorn and sticky floors. $15–$38. Steppenwolf, 1650 N. Halsted. steppenwolf.org

 

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

Through 3/6 Hans Fleischmann’s reimagining of Tennessee Williams’s classic left audiences slack-jawed in 2013. The character of Tom became a homeless man tormented by personal demons and mental illness. As he recounts the tragedy that befell his cripplingly introverted sister and their domineering mother, the fragile Wingfield family shatters—like glass. $28–$36. The Hypocrites at Den Theatre, 1329 N. Milwaukee. the-hypocrites.com

IN A WORD

2/5–3/19 A vanished child is at the broken heart of Lauren Yee’s (Samsara) new drama. For a bereaved mother, the second anniversary of her son’s disappearance is unbearable—doubly so when her friends unthinkingly throw her a birthday party. $15–$28. Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway. strawdog.org

INTERROGATION

2/3–3/20 In his second opening this month, Chicago playwright Scott Woldman (see Beautiful Autistic) follows a tense family reunion where long-simmering resentments erupt over small talk. $15–$32. Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand. theartistichome.org

JERUSALEM

2/12–4/3 Jez Butterworth’s highly acclaimed drama unfolds on St. George’s Day in an impoverished pocket of England. At its core is Rooster Byron, a hard-drinking outcast who manages to be both monstrous and sympathetic. $35–$40. Profiles Main Stage Theatre, 4139 N. Broadway. profilestheatre.org

LE SWITCH

Through 2/21 Marriage is at the heart of playwright Philip Dawkins’s new romance, which follows a commitment-shy gay man uncertain about how to act as wedding fever spreads through his circle of friends. Stephen Brackett directs the world premiere from the author of the acclaimed The Homosexuals. $20–$35. About Face Theatre at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont. aboutfacetheatre.com

LINES IN THE DUST

2/5–3/27 Playwright Nikkole Salter takes on the maddening shortcomings of New Jersey’s public school system in a play that follows a mother’s relentless quest to enroll her daughter in a high-performing high school. $15–$30. ETA Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago. etacreativearts.org

LONDON WALL

Through 2/14 Griffin Theatre unearths John Van Druten’s (I Am a Camera) rarely produced drama about female typists working in 1930s London and their attempts to deal with sexual harassment. $28–$36. Griffin Theatre at Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee. griffintheatre.com

LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT’S SHOULDER

2/2–3/6 Manny Buckley stars in a one-man show that follows the true story of Alonzo Fields, the first African American to ascend to the post of chief butler to the president. $19–$49. American Blues Theater at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. americanbluestheater.com

A LOSS OF ROSES

2/17–4/2 William Inge paints a haunting portrait of the Great Depression in this rarely staged drama about a 21-year-old living with his mother and the turmoil that ensues when a downtrodden young actress moves in with the pair. $17–$42. Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark. raventheatre.com

MARJORIE PRIME

Through 2/28 In Jordan Harrison’s drama, an 86-year-old former violinist grapples with the effects of old age. Kimberly Senior directs. $35–$70. Writers Theatre at Books on Vernon, 664 Vernon, Glencoe. writerstheatre.org

MARNIE AND PHIL: A CIRCUS LOVE LETTER

2/13–3/20 Playwright Chris Mathews directs the tale of two young performers who meet at circus school and somersault through fame, fortune, and heartache to find each other again in midlife. Top artists from the House Theatre, Lookingglass, and the Actors Gymnasium provide high-flying circus stunts and original music. $15–$25. Actors Gymnasium, 927 Noyes, Evanston. actorsgymnasium.org

MIDNIGHT COWBOY

2/19–4/10 Chris Hainsworth adapts James Leo Herlihy’s iconic novel (later made into an Oscar-winning movie) about two low-rent hustlers trying to catch a break in late-1960s New York City. $20–$40. Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood. lifelinetheatre.com

 

MOTHERS AND SONS

Through 2/28 The regional premiere of a work by playwright Terrence McNally (Master Class, Kiss of the Spider Woman) is always reason for anticipation. With director Steve Scott at the helm, doubly so. Scott takes on the story of a mother who lost a son to AIDS and meets up with her son’s former partner years afterward. $15–$68. Northlight Theatre, 9501 Skokie, Skokie. northlight.org

NO WAKE

Through 2/7 Powerhouse performers Lia Mortensen and Raymond Fox team up for William Donnelly’s portrait of a long-divorced couple trying to navigate a shocking loss that unites them in their sorrow. $25–$35. Route 66 Theatre Company at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. route66theatre.org

THE OLD FRIENDS

Through 3/26 The late, great playwright Horton Foote explores the tempestuous relationship between two old-money families living in a Texas town so small that minding your own business isn’t always possible. The return of a local beauty sets in motion the plot of this satire about the lifestyles of the rich and hypocritical. $18–$42. Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark. raventheatre.com

OTHELLO

2/18–4/10 Jonathan Munby directs Shakespeare’s racially charged tragedy in which a Moor is driven to murderous paranoia by a diabolical frenemy. $48–$88. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 E. Grand. chicagoshakes.com

OTHER LETTERS

2/7–29 Playwrights Bryan Renaud and Carin Silkaitis riff on the much-produced 1988 epistolary romance Love Letters by creating a drama based on letters between lovers outside the narrow confines of the hetero norm. $20–$28. Other Theatre Company at Side Project, 1439 W. Jarvis. theothertheatrecompany.com

POSH

Through 2/27 An elite English all-boys club dinner party devolves into a Lord of the Flies–esque nightmare in this 2010 Laura Wade play about what happens when 1 percenters feel threatened. $10–$35. Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn. steeptheatre.com

SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF

Through 2/7 Written by Wall Street Journal drama critic Terry Teachout, this one-man show traces the great Louis Armstrong’s career, from his beginnings in Chicago jazz clubs to his rapid rise to the best venues in New York, where blacks weren’t allowed to sit in the audience. $38–$68. Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis. courttheatre.org

SUNSET BABY

Through 4/10 A long-imprisoned Black Power leader returns home to see the daughter he never really knew—and to acquire a cachet of valuable letters from which he could make a fortune. Ron OJ Parson directs. $22–$51. TimeLine Theatre, 615 W. Wellington. timelinetheatre.com

UPSTATE

Through 2/28 Based on Kalisha Buckhanon’s young-adult novel, this drama follows two high school lovers in 1990s Harlem, one imprisoned for murdering his father, the other struggling to survive on the streets. $16–$33. MPAACT at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln. mpaact.org

WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS

Through 2/7 In 1973, Pearl Cleage was a speechwriter for Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first African American mayor. The playwright’s experiences as an activist at the heart of the civil rights movement and the sexual revolution helped shape this romance set during that time period. $20–$37. Congo Square Theatre at Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. congosquaretheatre.org

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