Stranger than Fiction
A lot of plays are hyped as “smart”; few live up to the promise. But Fiction—a story that, from a lesser playwright, could have been a sappy Lifetime movie—makes the cut, thanks to Steven Dietz’s witty repartee and highly literate characters. The story follows a pair of married novelists who, when they find out the wife has a few weeks to live, decide to share their diaries and lay bare the secrets of their lives. Previews run Friday the 28th and Saturday the 29th at 7:30 p.m., Sunday the 30th at 2:30 p.m.; the show, presented by Remy Bumppo Theatre Company, officially opens 7 p.m. Sunday at Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater (2257 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-871-3000). Tickets run $24 to $40; the show continues through November 4th.

Best Bets for Things to Do This Week

• What was once the Lincoln Park Oktoberfest is now the Lincoln Park Fall Festival. Organizers say there’s plenty of beer and brats in this town without adding to the cholesterol potluck, and besides, “fall festival” is really just transition-speak for what they’re hoping to get off the ground for 2008: a wing fest  (as in chicken wings; in this tasty venture, we wish them a wing and a prayer). In the meantime, revelers can enjoy this year’s jolly, if slightly generic, autumnal bash featuring live music from the headlining eighties band Naked Eyes (of “Always Something There to Remind Me” fame), 8:30 p.m. Saturday the 29th. The fest runs 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday around the intersection of Clybourn and Southport Avenues; admission is $5.

• For an authentic Teutonic take, opt for Oktoberfest at DANK Haus (4740 N. Western Ave.; 773-561-9181). The beer barrels roll out Saturday the 29th at 7 p.m.; the German-American Paloma Band, playing favorites straight from the beer gardens of Munich and Milwaukee, takes the stage at 7:30 p.m.; and everybody’s favorite punk-polka outfit (OK, maybe the only punk-polka outfit—but still), The Polkaholics, jam at 10 p.m. Admission is $10.

• Fresh off his feature-film directorial and writing début, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, former Chicagoan and Curb Your Enthusiasm staple Jeff Garlin comes home to the Annoyance Theatre (4830 N. Broadway; 773-561-4665) for the one-night run of Jeff Garlin’s Combo Platter. No word on whether Garlin will riff on what it was like to smooch his Cheese costar, that foul-mouthed femme fatale Sarah Silverman—but we can dream. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 2nd; tickets are $5.

• Swimming season is officially over, but one city pool gets a final hurrah when local performance troupe The Seldoms presents GIANT FIX/dance in a pool, which takes place just where it sounds—in the bottom of the drained Hamlin Park Pool (3035 N. Hoyne Ave.; 312-328-0303). The troupe does its thing while a video is projected onto the bottom of the pool; the audience watches from the pool deck. Performances run 7:30 p.m. Friday the 28th through Sunday the 30th (no show if it rains). Visit for tickets, $15.

• As of Thursday afternoon, a strike was still threatening to scuttle Saturday’s opening night at the Lyric Opera. Here’s hoping the conflict gets resolved to the satisfaction of all parties involved, but if you prefer your drama onstage rather than behind the scenes, here’s a safe bet: the Chicago Folks Operetta brings two light-hearted one acts by Franz Lehár, translated into English for the first time, to the Athenaeum Theatre (2936 N. Southport Ave.; 312-902-1500), Thursdays through Sundays through October 7th.

• Seminal country-punk band The Mekons, home to Brits-turned-local-luminaries Jon Langford and Sally Timms, celebrates its 30th anniversary with two shows Friday the 28th at the Old Town School of Folk Music (4544 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-728-6000). The first, at 7 p.m., includes songs from the band’s recent catalog, with openers The Horse’s Ha. The 10 p.m. show revisits the group circa the mid-eighties; Danbert Nobacon of Chumbawumba opens. Tickets are $20.

• Best-selling author Edwidge Danticat, one of Oprah’s anointed, speaks with Chicago magazine contributor Victoria Lautman at this month’s Writers on the Record installment, noon Sunday the 30th at Lookingglass Theatre (821 N. Michigan Ave.). Danticat discusses her new memoir, Brother, I’m Dying. Call 312-832-6788 to find out how to get free tickets to the event.

• Think of it as socially acceptable voyeurism: At the 37th annual Pilsen East Artists’ Open House (info booth at 1821 S. Halsted St.; 312-377-4444), guests are invited to wander through artists’ studios, homes, and gardens in the Chicago Arts District, the area extending from the intersection of Halsted and 18th Streets. There’s an opening bash Friday the 28th from 6 to 10 p.m., and the artwalk continues Saturday the 29th and Sunday the 30th from noon to 7 p.m. Admission is free.

• The overlap of art and music gets rock-start treatment in the new exhibition Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967 at the Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave.; 312-280-2660). The show—which features album covers, concert posters, and more by the likes of Andy Warhol and Karl Wirsum—opens Saturday the 29th and marks the start of 40 days of free admission in celebration of the museum’s 40th anniversary. Sympathy for the Devil runs through January 6th.

PLEASE NOTE: Events may be postponed or simply canceled. Please call ahead to make sure they are still scheduled to take place. Send tips or comments to