Leave Jacques Derrida to the grad students; local troupe 500 Clown Theater presents two new shows that-gasp-make literary deconstruction fun (not to mention destructive). Both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Shakespeare’s Macbeth get the Clown treatment, a blend of improv and vaudevillian physicality. In 500 Clown Frankenstein, three clowns tackle the issue of social isolation, re-creating Frankenstein’s lab, then destroying it. In 500 Clown MacBeth, three clowns compete viciously for the title role-yep, you guessed it-destroying everything, stage included, in the process. Both shows play at Steppenwolf Theatre Company (1650 N. Halsted St.; 312-335-1650) now through July 28th; see steppenwolf.org for showtimes. Tickets are $30.
Best Bets for Things to Do This Week
• Nostalgic for a bygone Chicago? The city, circa the 1950s and 1960s, comes alive in I Sailed with Magellan, adapted for the stage from Stuart Dybek’s coming-of-age novel about a working-class Polish boy. The show opens 7:30 p.m. Monday the 18th at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater (2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-871-3000), and Dybek hosts a pre-show discussion Thursday the 21st at 6 p.m. The show continues Tuesdays through Sundays through July 15th; tickets run $28 to $45.
• There’s something satisfyingly schadenfreude about a scathing theatre critique. In Bad Review, improv actors from Chemically Imbalanced Comedy take the most derisive review of a local production they can find in the Chicago Reader and create a performance the critic might have preferred. Catch the 10:3o p.m. show Friday the 15th at Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway; 773-472-3492) for a budget $5.
• You may recall Julia Sweeney from her Saturday Night Live stint, but that comedic turn was nothing compared to her chops as a monologist. In Letting Go of God, her first show since the critically acclaimed God Said Ha, Sweeney examines the experiences of losing her brother, battling breast cancer, and giving up religion. She performs Saturday the 16th at 3 p.m. and Sunday the 17th at 11 a.m. (yep, the same time as church) at Lakeshore Theater (3175 N. Broadway; 773-472-3492). Tickets are $30.Listen
• He’s conquered radio, film, and publishing; now Garrison Keillor returns to Ravinia (200-231 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park; 847-266-5100) for a live national broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. The show begins at 4:45 p.m. Saturday the 16th; tickets range from $10 for lawn seats to $60 for reserved seating.
• You don’t have to understand-or even have read-James Joyce’s Ulysses to celebrate Bloomsday. The Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.; 773-282-7035 ext. 10) hosts this ode to the author’s work, featuring readings from Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dubliners, and Finnegan’s Wake supplemented with jaunty Irish music. The party kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday the 16th, and tickets are $10.
• Still lamenting the loss of indie rock band Sleater-Kinney? Try Brooklyn band Bugs in the Dark, a similarly inspired punk trio that performs a free show 9 p.m. Tuesday the 19th at The Mutiny (2428 N. Western Ave.; 773-486-7774).
• Haven’t seen the city’s new public sculpture project? Cruise past the lakefront exhibit, Cool Globes, on Cool Globes Skate, an intermediate- to advanced-level rollerblading tour organized by the Chicago Road Rave crew. The group leaves from Daley Plaza (intersection of Clark and Washington Streets) at 7:30 p.m. Friday the 15th. BYO skates, water, and helmets (required); participation is free. Visit road-raves.org for more information.
• Don’t let insecurity stand in your way: SummerDance kicks off its 11th season this week in Grant Park (601 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-742-4007), and everyone is welcome-even those whose dance moves haven’t progressed past that junior-high favorite, the running man. Dance lessons, followed by freestyle dancing, run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 6 to 9:30 p.m., Sundays from 4 to 7 p.m., weather permitting, featuring a different musical genre each evening. Try swing dancing Friday the 15th and bachata Saturday the 16th, then fox trot to big band on Sunday. SummerDance runs through August.