Tag: Barrel of Monkeys

Review: That’s Weird Grandma–The Holiday Special Returns (Barrel of Monkeys, 2016)

Deanna Myers performs Santa’s Mean Day           

That’s Weird Grandma:
  The Holiday Special Returns

Written by CPS students
Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Jan 2  |  tix: $6-$12  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

December 21, 2016 | 0 Comments More

A stockingful of holiday shows in Chicago for 2016!


Ariana Burks stars as Clara in The Nutcracker, House Theatre Chicago 2Jason Groff stars as Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, Broadway ChicagoLisa Gaye Dixon as Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol at Goodman TheatreFrancis Guinan and Travis Turner in Twist Your Dickens or Scrooge You, Second City Goodman TheatreErica Stephan stars as Irene Roth in Crazy for You, Drury Lane TheatreJoe Foust and Larry Yando in A Christmas Carol, Goodman Theatre

The Chicago theater community will again produce a wide array of Christmas and holiday plays, musicals, ballets and comedies in 2016, all designed to put you in a festive mood.  Find the entire list of holiday offerings below

November 30, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: That’s Weird Grandma–The Holiday Special (Barrel of Monkeys, 2015)

Tai Palmgren in "The Marshmallow," part of Barrel of Monkey's "That's Weird, Grandma: The Holiday Special," written by CPS students, directed by Joseph Shupbach. (photo credit: Evan Hanover)         
That’s Weird, Grandma:
  The Holiday Special

Written by CPS Students
Neo-Futurist Theater, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 28  |  tix: $6-$12   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   

November 27, 2015 | 1 Comment More

Review: That’s Weird, Grandma – Winter Matinees (Barrel of Monkeys)

Michael Govier, Tom Malinowski and Zeke Sulkes star in Barrel of Monkeys' "That's Weird, Grandma: Winter Matinees," directed by Jason Sperling. (photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)        
That’s Weird, Grandma:
    Winter Matinees

Written by Chicago Public School students 
Adapted by Barrel of Monkeys 
Directed by Jason Sperling
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map) 
thru March 23  |  tickets: $6-$12   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review

February 17, 2014 | 0 Comments More

Review: Chicago’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys)

Linsey Falls, Eunice Woods, Emjoy Gavino, Erick Deshaun Dorris, Laura McKenzie and Lindsey Dorcus star in Barrel of Monkeys' "Chicago's Weird, Grandma," adapted by Jessica Hudson, directed by Molly Brennan. (photo credit: Beth Bullock)        
Chicago’s Weird, Grandma

Short stories written by CPS students
Adapted by Jessica Hudson
Directed by Molly Brennan 
at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 2  |  tickets: $6-$12   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
                   Read review 

November 9, 2013 | 0 Comments More

Review: Chicago’s Weird, Grandma (Barrel of Monkeys)

Ataleee Judy of BONEdanse, one of the participants in Barrel of Monkeys' "Chicagos Weird Grandma", directed by Molly Brennan. (photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent)        
Chicago’s Weird, Grandma 

Directed by Molly Brennan  
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Dec 17   |  tickets: $6-$12   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets 
        Read entire review

October 14, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: That’s Weird, Grandma – Holiday Edition (Barrel of Monkeys)

A scene from Barrel of Monkey's "That's Weird, Grandma - Holiday Edition," directed by Molly Brennan.       
That’s Weird, Grandma 
       Holiday Edition

By students from Chicago Public Schools
     and Chicago Park District
Directed by Molly Brennan
The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru Jan 2  |  tickets: $5-$10   |  more info
Check for half-price tickets  
        Read entire review

December 24, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: Daredevils’ Hamlet (The Neo-Futurists)


“Jackass” Meets The Bard



Jay Torrence, John Pierson, Trevor Dawkins, Ryan Walters, Anthony Courser, Brennan Buhl - from Neo-Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet"

The Neo-Futurists present
Daredevils’ Hamlet
Written by Ryan Walters and ensemble
Directed by
Halena Kays
Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
through September 25  |  tickets: $15  |  more info

reviewed by Lawrence Bommer

Only in culture centers like Chicago could there be a theater audience savvy enough to completely comprehend this show’s connections between Shakespeare and professional wrestling, the indecisive Hamlet’s crisis of confidence and the endangered masculinity of modern metrosexuals; the actors’ own neuroses and the Shakespearean characters they’re most drawn to. We deserve this show, if only because it won’t be lost on us.

Ryan Walters, from Neo-Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet" In 2005 Ryan Walters’ band of jumpsuited or strait-jacketed daredevils created their first edition of exuberant “jackassery.” But, intent on putting statements behind their stunts, five years later the quintet are riffing on “Hamlet,” using their cartwheels, tumbling, acrobatics, and hoop diving to illustrate the melancholy Dane’s identity crisis and adding their own autobiographical confessions to this absorbing “afterword.” (Each gets to answer questions about their dads, whether they would avenge their father’s murder by exterminating their uncle, and whether they are men of action or men of thought.)

The audience is warmed up as an interactive game of “Four-Square” opens the inquiry. It’s followed by various action-oriented depictions of scenes from the tragedy: Young Ryan Walters rides a tricycle as he attempts a small-scale Knievel-like jump across a wooden ramp. (The exact link to Hamlet escaped me here except that he was also reciting the “What a piece of work is man!” speech.) The graveyard scene is depicted with the performers naked in black light with tiny skulls lit up as codpieces over their privates. Ophelia’s drowning occurs in a real flower-strewn trough, a kind of life-size baptismal font. Though the fight between Hamlet and Laertes is reduced to overhyped WWF combat, the sword fight finale is performed exactly as written because, of course, the daredevils can’t overdo the original when it comes to exaggerated overkill.

John Pierson, from Neo-Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet"

These 100 minutes teem with fascinating connections where art deconstructs art and life imitates itself. Buhl, stretching a bit, compares Hamlet’s pursuit of justice with his own memories of “wild play” in a kiddie pool that got out of control. Anthony Courser prefers to portray an action figure like Robin Hood whose black-and-white status as a legend is preferable to Hamlet’s moral ambiguity. John Pierson describes the fasting and sacrifices he intends to make throughout the show’s run (including sex and modern food). Jay Torrence is fascinating by Horatio’s loyalty to Hamlet and depicts it with some homoerotic interaction with Walters. Finally, the show’s conceiver, Ryan Walters, playing the pseudo crazy, roller-skating Prince of Denmark, eloquently soliloquizes on the transience of life and its poignant surrogate, the theater, as he bends over an audience member who he intends to never forget. There’s even a brief interlude in which an unnamed actress enters as Gertrude to make a rather convincing defense of Hamlet’s much maligned mother.

It’s not the sometimes indulgent, hit-and-run skits that convince here; they’re clever distractions within a larger illustrated lecture. What wears you down and finally wins you over is the fascinating totality of this free-form action portrait of a play that’s as seemingly inexhaustible as the sun. “Hamlet” and Hamlet are everything we can project onto them and Daredevil’s Hamlet exposes us every bit as much as it illuminates a rather old script.

Rating: ★★★

Trevor Dawkins and Ryan Walters, from Neo Futurists' "Daredevil's Hamlet"

All photos by Candice Conner / Oomphotography

August 23, 2010 | 2 Comments More