Family Ties

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I must admit I tend to gravitate towards the artsy, the cutting (sometimes even bleeding)-edge, the shocking and aweing, the highly theatrical when it comes to plays that I like to see.  For those of you who read this blog regularly, you know I’ve written about many of them too over the years.  But ultimately theater for me is about great storytelling, and I’ve been surprised that two of the plays I’ve liked the most this winter theater season are about the extraordinarily fraught emotional bonds between ordinary families.  Call me jaded, but every time I see the words “family drama” in the description of a play (and the play isn’t entitled August:  Osage County), I scoff, roll my eyes, lower my bar, and expect something straight out of Lifetime TV.  But Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal, a world premiere production at the American Theatre Company about the lives and loves of three generations in a suburban family played out in the restaurant they frequent over the years, and Caitlin Montaye Parrish’s A Twist of Water,  in another world premiere by Route 66 Theatre Company, about the fragile relationship between a gay dad and his adopted daughter after the death in the family, are intricate, emotionally resonant, flawlessly written chamber pieces, getting the massive audience attention (and in A Twist of Water’s case, including Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s) both richly deserve.

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Summer Daze

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For me, the dog days of August seem to be almost interminably crawling by, with an overall hazy, languorous feel to them that makes me all the more want to stay cooped up in my air-conditioned apartment watching the men’s springboard diving at the Beijing Olympics (if cutting-edge NASA technology was used to develop the new aerodynamic Speedo body swimsuit the swimmers are wearing, I wonder what technological marvel could have come up with Alexandre Despatie’s diving trunks? Uhmmm…I’m sure you Halsted queen bees have a multitude of theories running through your, ahh, heads…). There hasn’t been a lot of arts and culture events to go to (or at least any that I am particularly interested in), so I have been catching up a lot on news of what’s coming up.

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