Saturday, May 5, 2012

Culture watch

Looking for something to do around the city?

Here are my latest comedy and theater previews for Flavorpill Chicago (click the links for more info):

Kumail Nanjiani at UP Comedy Club
through Sunday

Think of the Chicago comedy scene as a forest. Some standup comedians take a long-term approach to wilderness survival, building a log cabin by performing steadily over many years. Others, like Hannibal Buress, TJ Miller, and Kumail Nanjiani, quickly gather armfuls of kindling here before hiking to the coast. Nanjiani lit up our small stages during his Chicago tenure, then built a roaring bonfire of television work (Michael and Michael Have Issues) and college gigs soon after decamping for New York City. Tonight he's back in town with more of the smart, silly stuff that warms a room. See his classic "cheese" bit for a sample.

through June 10

Stop us if you've heard this one: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." Over the past 30 years Lifeline Theatre has made its name by staging classic literary titles, and they don't get much more classic than the most beloved novel of all time, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In this charming rendition, Lifeline's appealing cast deftly brings to life the drawing-room humor and sweetly sincere pathos of the well-worn original, with nary a zombie in sight.

In a Forest, Dark and Deep at Profiles Theatre
through June 3

Neil LaBute is best known for his boundless faith in the inability of everyday people to treat each other decently, a bleak worldview typified by the emotional cruelty and casual brutality of characters in such popular entertainments as In the Company of MenYour Friends and Neighbors, and Fat Pig. His latest effort is something of a departure from his usual fare, a rip-roaring psychological drama set in a remote cabin complete with thunder, lightning, and the occasional power failure. And yet, LaBute being LaBute, the dark laundry of human frailty is gradually aired. At 95 brisk minutes with no intermission, In a Forest, Dark and Deep is essentially a movie thriller played live on stage; its intensity and frequent plot twists will keep you engrossed until the end credits.

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