The Brothers Grim
Two similar-sounding plays from two very different playwrights unite in an experiment at American Theater Company (1909 W. Byron St.; atcweb.org). Sam Shepard’s True West, about a screenwriter and his thief of a brother, is traditionally cast white, while Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks’s Pulitzer-winner about an entertainer and his thief of a brother, is traditionally cast black. Beginning Thursday, February 5th, actors from ATC and Congo Square Theatre Company switch off roles in a rotating-rep production, breaking down boundaries in two bruising tales of brotherly love and hate. Tickets are $35 to $40, and the plays run through March 8th.
Best Bets for Things to Do This Week
Many know him as Death Star Commander Moff Jerjerrod (Return of the Jedi), but the Cambridge, England, native Michael Pennington has spent some 20,000 hours onstage making the Bard’s 400-something-year-old words sing with sublimity and sting with relevance (including a riveting, Jeff Award–winning Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakes in 1996). His one-man memoir of a life in the theatre, Sweet William, also makes for a thrilling portrait of Shakespeare. The show opens Tuesday, February 3rd and runs through the 22nd at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave.; chicagoshakes.com). Tickets are $46 to $56.
Or get a heaping helping of guilty pleasure at Northwestern’s B-Fest 2009, a 24-hour back-to-back marathon of cheesy movies (Scream, Blacula, Scream; Godzilla vs. Megalon) that runs 6 p.m. Friday, January 30th through 6 p.m. Saturday the 31st at Norris University Center (1999 S. Campus Dr., Evanston; b-fest.com). Tickets are $35.
For 20-plus years, Greg Kolack has been unearthing unknown playwrights (hello, Rebecca Gilman) who invariably startle the world. So while we’re utterly unfamiliar with the writer Tom Patrick, we’re primed for Misamerica, a Kolack-directed piece that sounds like a cross between Fast Food Nation and Apocalypse Now, in which a corporate-America marketing team invades the Middle East. The show opens Monday, February 2nd and runs through March 28th at Raven Theatre (6157 N. Clark St.; raventheatre.com). Tickets are $15 to $25.
If you missed its debut last year at the Viaduct Theater, now’s your chance to see a miniature interpretation of our fair city rendered almost entirely in cardboard. Seventy local artists collaborated on Exquisite City, a 30-block grid of cardboard neighborhoods and skylines, with an audio installation of Chicago street sounds as backdrop. An opening reception with the artists runs 6 to 8 p.m. Friday the 30th at the Chicago Tourism Center (72 E. Randolph St.; exquisitecity.com), and the exhibition is on view through March 15th. Admission is free.
Photograph: Michael Brosilow