2010′s Wondrous Ten

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It is that time of year again when I’m making lists – from things I’m going to give up in the new year (eating pork belly being one of them) to places I’m going to visit in 2011 (return trips to Hong Kong and Vancouver and a first trip to Rio de Janeiro on top of that list) to the various ways I can meet hot chefs in the city (oops, ok, that’s a secret list).  I’ve also compiled my annual ten best theatrical experiences for 2010, a list, as always, compiled from the point of view of a passionate audience member.  It was another strong year in Chicago theater, and I saw plays everywhere in the city, from the major houses like the Goodman and Steppenwolf, to most of the storefronts, to the basement of an apartment building in Uptown where folding seats were set up in front of washers and dryers.  Fantastic!

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Word Less

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When I found out that an evening of Harold Pinter plays was going to be performed in the basement of an apartment building at that defiantly urban corner of Broadway and Lawrence, where latte-sipping hipsters mix it up with both drunken alt-rock fans stumbling out of the Aragon theater, and gang members who still ply their procure and pay trades in the dark alleys of Uptown, I said I’m there!  The intrepid Slimtack Theatre Co. had a lot of buzz five years ago with their production of John Patrick Shanley’s Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.  Staged in Artistic Director Mike Rice’s second floor apartment in the same Uptown building, the audience moved from room to room as the play progressed, and at one point, the lead actor leapt onto the ledge outside the apartment to perform a scene, naked as a jaybird, jolting all the hipsters, sweaty drunks, and gang members trolling below.  But the theater group disappeared for a while, and has now resurfaced, literally underground, with Death to Fascism, Freedom for my People:  A Basement of One Acts by Harold Pinter, an hour long collection of late Pinter works, directed by Rice, which share a theme around the use, misuse, or non-use of language in authoritarian societies.

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