‘Visiting Edna’ delves into adult son to parent relationship as death looms

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The power of ‘Visiting Edna,” Tony Award-winning playwright David Rabe’s play premiering at Steppenwolf Theatre, is the utter normalcy of the conversations that take place when a married son visits his terminally ill mother.

Debra Monk (Edna) and Ian Barford (Andrew) in 'Visiting Edna' at Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Debra Monk (Edna) and Ian Barford (Andrew) in ‘Visiting Edna’ at Steppenwolf Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

Rabe’s brilliance, projected in the superb acting of Debra Monk as Edna and Ian Barford as son Andrew, is that the drama is subtle enough to apply to almost any family and be understood and appreciated by any audience.

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‘City of Conversation’ reflects country of contentious politics

Natalie West (Jean Swift) l, and Lia Mortensen (Hester Ferris) in their Georgetown home. Photo by Charles Osgood
Natalie West (Jean Swift) L, and Lia Mortensen (Hester Ferris) in their Georgetown home. Photo by Charles Osgood

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Old-timers remember when political positions were argued during the day and set aside or amicably dealt with in tradeoffs agreed to during dinners at night.

That the convivial era’s respect for each other changed to vitriolic attacks after President Carter’s term and continues today is told through one politically connected Georgetown family in Anthony Giardina’s ‘The City of Conversation’ now at Northlight Theatre.

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This Weekend: Three important art shows

Expo Chicago

The fifth International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art at Chicago’s Navy Pier, known as Expo Chicago, opens Sept. 22 with VIP parties and is open to the public Sept.23-25. More than a mere showing of works from 140 galleries across the globe, the fair showcases special exhibitions from art institutions and organizations and has panel discussions. There are also unusual suspended installations as part of IN/SITU.

Navy Pier, always a fun destination, adds art appeal this weekend as it hosts EXPO Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs
Navy Pier, always a fun destination, adds art appeal this weekend as it hosts EXPO Chicago. Photo by Jodie Jacobs

Details: EXPO Chicago is at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL. Hours are Fri-Sat. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 one day, $30 3-day pass. For  more information visit EXPO Chicago. For Navy Pier information call (312) 595-7437.

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Set design, music, choreography and cast make ‘Wonderful Town’ a terrific revival

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It doesn’t matter that the only memorable songs you take away from Wonderful Town, a musical about two Ohio sisters seeking success in New York, is Ohio (why did I ever leave..) and It’s Love. Leonard Bernstein’s jazz and swing music is enough to have audiences leave Goodman Theatre’s season opener with a smile.

BRi Sudia (Ruth) l and Lauren Molina (Eileen) and cast in 'Wonderful Town' at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
BRi Sudia (Ruth) l and Lauren Molina (Eileen) and cast in ‘Wonderful Town’ at Goodman Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

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Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’ converted to a conversation piece

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In Lookingglass Theatre’s show bill, Aaron Posner explains that ‘Life Sucks” is his updated version of Anton Chekhov’s ‘Uncle Vanya.’

Eddie Jemison, Barbara Robertson, Jim Ortlieb and Chaon Cross in 'Life Sucks' at Lookingglass Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren
Eddie Jemison, Barbara Robertson, Jim Ortlieb and Chaon Cross in ‘Life Sucks’ at Lookingglass Theatre. Photo by Liz Lauren

Chekhov’s classic tale, published in 1897 and premiered in 1899, is about life on a rural estate where inhabitants work hard but are bored and their thoughts are a mix of wishes and woes.

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‘Julius Caesar’ zooms along in shortened version

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Writers Theatre’s production of ‘Julius Caesar’ begs the question – what do you want to take away from Shakespeare’s play about politics and power.

Kareem Bandealy (Brutus) l, and Scott Parkinson (Cassius) r. in Julius Caesar at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow
Kareem Bandealy (Brutus) l, and Scott Parkinson (Cassius) r. in Julius Caesar at Writers Theatre. Photo by Michael Brosilow

If you want an overpowering sense that assassination of a powerful figure such as Julius Caesar could only call forth chaos whether in Rome or, more broadly, the world, then you will appreciate the WT’s technologically strong visual and sound effects.

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Lake Forest Symphony opens season with a concert jewel

Violinist Stefan Milenkovich
Violinist Stefan Milenkovich

Classical music aficionados used to heading downtown Chicago for programs at Orchestra Hall from fall through spring and to Ravinia Festival in the summer would do well to also check out the Lake Forest Symphony concerts.

With superb interpretations of Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major and Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 “Eroica,” the Lake Forest Symphony reaffirmed its status as a first rate, professional orchestra, last weekend.

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Theater: Fall shows to put on the calendar

'Wonderful Life ' revival comes to Goodman Theatre this fall
‘Wonderful Town ‘ revival comes to Goodman Theatre this fall

With more than 200 theater companies in Metropolitan Chicago there’s no lack of choices in all price ranges, genres and locations. Here is a small sampling of a half-dozen shows that will be in area theaters this fall. Of course you know that ‘Hamilton,’ the mega Tony-Award winning rap musical, opens Sept. 27. But it’s an open run so you might want to check availability later in the year or 2017.

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Art: Add really good art fair to Labor Day activities

 

If you drive over to north suburban Lake Forest between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Labor Day you can catch the second day of one of the best outdoor art shows in the Chicago area. It’s the 62nd Annual Art Fair on the Square.

Sculptor Peter Ruivwa's work at LF art fair
Sculptor Peter Ruivwa’s work at LF art fair

 

Even though it is sponsored the locally run Deer Path Art League, its high quality of artists and reputation for patrons who seriously shop has attracted fine artists from across the country.

You will see really exceptional paintings and sculptures plus good jewelry, wood and glass items.

The fair fills the suburb’s Market Square, a historic downtown area with a European flavor that is on the west side of the Union Pacific train tracks.

For more information visit Deerpath Art League

Art: An art installation of a different kind

You’ve heard of outdoor art installations where objects are wrapped but imagine one that requires precise rototilling.

If you fly over Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, IL you see images of the Starship Enterprise, Spock, Captain Kirk and planetary objects. Or drive there to walk the rototilled trails that define the images. There is also a tower to climb to see the images. They are on a 33-acre cornfield about an hour northwest of Chicago west of Fox Lake.

Star Trek corn maze art installation
Star Trek corn maze art installation

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