Tag: Dan Kerr-Hobert

Review: The Food Show (The Neo-Futurists)

Oliver Camacho and Bilal Dardai star in The Food Show, The Neo-Futurists            
      

The Food Show

Created by Dan Kerr-Hobert, Caitlin Stainken
Metropolitan Brewing, 3031 N. Rockwell (map)
thru Sept 2  |  tix: $10-$25  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets    
     

August 3, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Nutcracker (House Theatre of Chicago, 2016)

Ariana Burks as and Desmond Gray star as Clara and Fritz in The Nutcracker, House Theatre Chicago 1           
      
  

The Nutcracker

Adapted by Jake Minton, Phillip Klapperich,
    Kevin O’Donnell and Tommy Rapley
Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tix: $25-$45  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

November 22, 2016 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Nutcracker (The House Theatre of Chicago)

Paige Collins as Clara in House Theatre of Chicago's "The Nutcracker", directed by Tommy Rapley. (photo credit: Michael Brosilow)        
      
The Nutcracker 

Book by Jake Minton and Phillip Klapperich

Music by Kevin O’Donnell, Lyrics by Jake Minton
Directed and Choreographed by Tommy Rapley
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tickets: $25-$35   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

November 26, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: Pinocchio, The Wooden Boy (The Neo-Futurists)

Robert Fenton as Pinocchio crushes Jiminy Cricket. (photo credit: Brave Lux)       
      
Pinocchio (The Wooden Boy) 

Written and Directed by Greg Allen 
at the Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
thru April 14  |  tickets: $10-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

March 15, 2012 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Nutcracker (House Theatre of Chicago)

Mike Smith - The House Theatre of Chicago, The Nutcracker       
      
The Nutcracker 

Music/Lyrics by Kevin O’Donnell, Jake Minton
Book by Phillip C. Kapperich, Jake Minton
Directed by Tommy Rapley 
at Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tickets: $25   |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
           Read entire review
     

November 17, 2011 | 1 Comment More

REVIEW: K. (The Hypocrites)

 

Allen goes coo-coo for Kafka

 

 

The Hypocrites - K - by Greg Allen004

   
The Hypocrites present
   
K.
   
Written and Directed by Greg Allen
at
Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division (map)
through November 28   |  tickets: $14-$28  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

At the last three productions I’ve seen put on by The Hypocrites, arguably the local leader in avant garde storefront, there’s been some blatant reference to the originating text. In Sean Graney’s stage adaptation of Frankenstein last year (our review ★★), the pages of numerous copies of Mary Shelley’s book were pasted on The Hypocrites - K - by Greg Allen001the back wall. In No Exit (review ★★★), Inez splattered toothpaste all over the set and tacked on leaves from Jean Paul-Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. And in their season opener K., translated from “The Trial”, a semi-finished novel from that proto-surrealist genius, Franz Kafka, characters read, toss around, and swear upon a tiny copy of Kafka’s chilling story. The stage adaptation and direction are the handiwork of Neo-Futurist Greg Allen, a master of metatheatricality. The production unravels in the last few scenes, but the darkly funny story is an enthralling journey. One wonders, considering that Kafka died before finishing “The Trial” (or any novels, really), if this is sort of the point.

Allen first penned his adaptation in 1996. “K.” is Josef K., Kafka’s unwitting protagonist in his slamming critique of law, order, and bureaucracy. “The Trial” is pretty much an expressionist legal thriller, with less crime and more paperwork. K.’s monotonous life is disrupted when he is arrested one morning, but not detained and never told what offense he committed (the police don’t even know). The rest of the piece follows K.’s long, occasionally action-packed struggle to get his trial to go to trial.

 

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Allen cherrypicks from Kafka’s plot. He hits important characters and scenes, but he streamlines the piece. This works well for the adaptation; K.’s Sisyphean legal journey is easy enough to follow and digest. Allen then plugs the gaps with a self-awareness that shocks the story into a stage life, one that is very aware that it is theatre. The actor playing K.’s father, Sean Patrick Fawcett, must yank a program from the audience to prove to K. that he is, in fact, K.’s father. A painter sells works with titles like The Hunger Artist, The Penal Colony, and The Castle. And there’s a full-on Metamorphosis moment. These choices tap into themes that both resonate with the original text and go beyond it: the nature of narrative, and reality, for that matter.

Brennan Buhl’s portrayal of K. syncs perfectly with Allen’s vision. He straddles the script, keeping one foot in the story and the other in our world. Sometimes he is charmingly aloof, making it seem like he’s part of some dark improv set—ready to joke and riff off whatever happens to him. At other crucial points, he snaps into the plot’s reality with devastating somberness. Buhl’s performance is stripped of sentimentality; his whole world is funny and inconsequential until the agonizing futility of his situation beats him into submission.

The Hypocrites - K - by Greg Allen003There are a few times when the Allen’s meta-theatre meddling fails to produce the fruit, the ending being the prime example. K. has a possibly fatal encounter with his arresting officers, but the final outcome isn’t revealed, and Buhl sucks in the audience at the last moment….except we don’t know where we’re going. We get a sort of “what happened?” moment, and I was very confused as to what actually happened. Allen’s tight focus slackens here and the moment clogs up the heavy theatrical metaphor flowing through the piece.

Buhl is joined by a great supporting cast who all jump into a massive gumbo of personas. They do great things with Chelsea Warren’s set, which features plenty of doors to shift around, open, and slam. There’s an energy present here that isn’t seen often today, one that doesn’t mock the fact that theatre is happening, but lovingly accepts the art form while pushing its limits. Even with K.’s misfires, Allen has created riveting, intellectual theatre.

   
   
Rating: ★★★
  
  

Brennan Buhl - Hypocrites Theatre - Greg Allen

October 28, 2010 | 0 Comments More

REVIEW: Crisis – A Musical Game Show (Neo-Futurists)

A tour de force of originality, wisdom and LOL’s

 

CRISIS horiz 3

 
Neo-Futurists present
 
Crisis (A Musical Game Show)
 
Created by John Pierson, Daniel Kerr-Hobert and Clifton Frei
at Neo-Futurists, 5153 N. Ashland (map)
through June 5th  |  tickets: $15  |  more info

Reviewed by Robin Sneed

Is life rigged? Are we trapped in a massive capitalist game show in which the halfwits and the shrewd end up at the top with all the money while the intelligent and thoughtful are relegated to loser? In the Neo-Futurists’ brilliant original musical, Crisis – A Musical Game Show, you are left to trust or not, at a most pivotal time in US history, in what you see, what you read, what you hear, and what you think.

CRISIS vert In the grand tradition of true Neo-Futurist theater, which never seeks to suspend disbelief, we must question whether this outrageously well performed set up is truly as advertised. Are those audience members taking scantron tests before the show truly scoring well on the quiz, and thus asked to participate? Is it a lottery? Are the participants pre-chosen? Are you simply relegated to loser by default of the process? Are you feeling so powerless over so many crises in the world that you hand your money over to organizations simply because they promise to find the cure, the solution, to right the wrong? Is capitalism really just a system in which blind faith is a given because so many have been trained to trust authority and never ask questions? A system in which the truly blind are preyed upon by the self-proclaimed altruist  as well as the openly greedy? Trusting others is trusting yourself, Crisis sings to us. Can you be trusted? 

Crisis is a tour de force of originality, energy, skill, timing, and intelligence.  One must follow along at a pace or be left behind, duped into the fast flashing ‘rules’ of a game show setting.  The beauty of this genre is that the performers never condescend. They are in this with you, even as they never let up for two hours of rapid fire intellectual and emotional sleight of hand. There is a simple humility that is natural to this form of theater, and it shines in this cast. After all, the creators of Crisis have lived the American experience and take no outward pride in having figured it out while showing the audience just how willingly we continue to believe the fantasy of the seemingly altruistic money giver, maker and taker,  all in one, brought to us by the television culture that feeds it.

In the deep center of this piece, the three hosts and creators of Crisis  – John Pierson, Daniel Kerr-Hobert and Clifton Frei – tell the truth. They tell the truth through the wild energy they harness and give to the audience. This is not the staid phone-it-in performance set. They are present, engaged, and true to themselves as artists.  If you believe in nothing about our current system by the end of this show, you will believe in gift. You will believe there is theatre in Chicago worth seeing and being a part of. You will get far more than you pay for.  And you will laugh. When is the last time you went to the theater and laughed for two hours?

The hosts, although running the show, are still deeply embedded in the ensemble, sending their force through it. One gets the feeling there is nothing these three can’t catch, save, or recover from.  The rest of the ensemble is tight, on time, connected and hilarious, using an impressive range of skill in commedia dell’arte. The commercials throughout the show from local businesses bring the reality of our current economic state right through the doors in real time with style and wit. The live band is fully a part of the ensemble, highly skilled, funny, and plain cool.

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To win  at this game is simple. Pretend to be annoyed with and above the game. Be very adept at unlocking cabinets, finding the money inside, and shredding documents. Admit in a moment of ‘raw honesty’ to purposely leading your own sibling to physical injury while still saying he isn‘t very bright, and then cover it all over with a high paying job that makes you seem as if you are helping others.  Misrepresent your job as research in the beginning in an attempt to sound as if it carries a scientific basis, then conveniently pull the heartstrings of your audience by bringing attention to a cause or illness for which there is no cure or solution, and for which you have done no actual research, and you just won yourself lots of money. Unfortunately, this describes the directors of too many non-profits to numerate, and makes the openly greedy Wall Street CEO look honest by comparison.

As this is a review of neo-futurist theatre, I am required by participation to disclose the whole truth about my experience Saturday night, and so I will. The Neo-Futurists are a national treasure, supported in part by National Endowment and The Illinois Arts Council. The truth is, it has been a very long time since I have seen one of our true jewel boxes of the arts in this country. These are tax and patronage dollars being spent the way I want them spent: an incredibly high self-motivated standard of performance in an all at once humble and elegant space, where truth through creative expression still wins.

  
   
Rating: ★★★★
 
 

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Cast and Crew

The Hosts: John Pierson, Dan Kerr-Hobert, Clifton Frei

The Musicians: John Szymanski, Curtis Williams, John Bliss

The Question Designers: Evan Hanover, Bilal Dardai

The Commercial Writing Staff: Megan Mercier, Steve Heisler

  
  
May 16, 2010 | 1 Comment More

Review: Neo-Futurists’ “Fear”

Just in time for Halloween

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Neo-Futurists present:

Fear

Conceived and curated by Noelle Krimm
running through October 31st  (buy tickets)

Reviewed by Paige Listerud

Just in time for Halloween, with Fear, Noelle Krimm and cast at the Neo-Futurarium tout themselves as “the thinking man’s haunted house.” A walking-tour based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Fear certainly will give you something to think about—but will also carry your experience far beyond any cerebral appreciation.

Fear-2 Fear is there to throw the audience off balance, to make them apprehensive about what is coming next, to subvert the mundane internal presumptions of control and reasonable expectation that help to make life manageable and endurable. The production doesn’t need to splatter gore or make you blindly stick your hand into a bowl of spaghetti—the realized uneasiness of life’s exigencies is enough to terrify.

Thus Krimm and company rely, not just on Poe’s obsessions with madness, terror, and degeneration, but also on a modern American lexicon of horror, wherein box-cutters and Dixie cups filled with—what? Kool-Aid?–take on sinister meaning just by being silently presented. Old tech and new are thrown together to suggest the disarray of history and the precariousness of preservation.

The dances and puppet shows are childlike, but are not there to show us happy fables. Fear highlights our most basic fears: of personal safety, of injury, of strangers and strangeness, of both physical and mental illness. It is a romp through the fears we suppress just to make it through life, even if we must all submit in the end.

  While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man”
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.
—–The Conqueror Worm
 

Most of all it is fun–so catch Fear if you dare. The tour involves several sets of stairs, so accessibility is a concern. With enough interest, the tour may extend beyond Halloween.

Enjoy.

 

Rating:  «««½

 

Extra contributors: Rachel Claff, Matt Hawkins, Seth Bockley, Chloe Johnston, Mindy Myers, Ren Velarde, Bernie McGovern and Dan Kerr-Hobert

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September 30, 2009 | 1 Comment More