Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on November 27, 1999 · Page 33
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · Page 33

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Saturday, November 27, 1999
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Chicago Tribune, Saturday, November 27, 1999 Section 1 33 Sugar plums by Salt Creek Salt Creek Ballet will present "The Nutcracker" Saturday and Sunday at Hinsdale Central Auditorium, 630-769-1 1 99; Dec. 4 at the Paramount Arts Center in Aurora, 630-896-6666; and Dec. 1 1 at Governors State University, 708-235-2222. India fest Nartan Dance School performs Sunday at the Cultural Center as part of the ongoing festival of Indian culture. 312-346-3278. On-line reviews Check out Chicago Tribune critics' reviews of recent theater, pop, rock, classical and dance performances on-line at metromix.comreviews. .Jll.ll U M'"V 1 I Arts watch "V.T" Crowing f Et tu, ladies! Footsteps parries with gender issues pains Adam Douritz preaches misery, ' self-absorption Theater review "Shakespeare's Lovers and Fighters' When: Through Dec. 12 Where: Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Phone: 773-878-4840 res- beef. Not only are women denied the best speeches, but when it comes to classical stage combat, they are usually restricted to the sidelines. The proactive result is "Shakespeare's Lovers and Fighters." McKie's pleasantly unified Sunday evening revue of the Bard's greatest (mainly male) hits, allows women to muse on the relative nobility of suffering the slings and By Brad Cawn Special to the Tribune Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz fashions himself as the foremost of preachers on human misery, a king of pain, a stranger in a world passing him by. Scorned, beaten down, done wrong, he desires so greatly to talk about his own crushed emotions that he'll stretch his band's most famous ballad, "Round Here," into a 10-minute oration to anyone willing to lend an ear. So never mind the head cold that forced Tuesday night's show Rock review By Chris Jones Special to the Tribune William Shakespeare may have penned the greatest monologues and soliloquies of all time. But from "All the world's a stage" to "It is the cause, it is the cause my soul," the vast majority of these timeless treats were dispensed through the mouths of men. Sure, Helena, Gertrude, Beatrice, Cressida, Lady Percy and the rest get a few self-reflexive nuggets, but they are frequently in reaction to some questionable male activity. Even if these great Elizabethan dramas show unusually profound awareness of the female psyche, even the most dedicated Shakespearean actress would admit that, when it comes to the profundity of rhyming couplets, the playing field is hardly level. Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and all the other members of the hubris-filled boys' club, get most of the good stuff. Since Shakespeare wrote his plays for men and boys, the surrounding issues of gender have always been fluid and complex. So one could argue that there is no reason under the sun why women should not play the male roles in a contemporary production of a Shakespearean drama and thus bring new insights to these juicy male speeches. That, at least, is the premise of the Footsteps Theatre Company's consistently intriguing series of all-female productions of Shakespeare's plays that has been going on now for several seasons. Karin McKie, a strong actress who has appeared in several of Footsteps' women-centered Shakespeare plays, has another J Tribune photo by Candlce C. Cusic Adam Douritz, frontman of the Counting Crows (left), whined, lectured and complained at the Aragon. arrows of outrageous fortune, even as they jump into a fight with Laertes. Performed on a Sunday schedule at the Theatre Building, this 75-minute show is at its best when it explores issues of gender quite explicitly, rather than merely trotting out familiar readings of these canonical speeches. It's also a more engaging exploration of Shakespeare's fighters than of his lovers. But there is some terrific fight choreography from Kara Pasierb (who also performs, superbly) and an interesting take on the moody Dane from Jean Adamak. Appropriately enough, given the premise, it's the perplexing witches from "Macbeth" that provide the thematic glue for this interesting and progressive piece of theater. And the excellent Susy Ibrahim, Alida Vitas and Ashley Bishop make three fascinating guides. about as indistinguishable from one another as the band's dark "Four Days" was from REM's "The One I Love." That the group, bolstered by a third guitaristmandolin player, dully delivered its material with the flawless execution of the classic rockers they so recall was but a further reminder of the mere functionality of their songs. But perhaps Duritz described the band's flaws best during his yearning performance of the show's elegiac highlight, "Amy Hit the Atmosphere," in which he sang, "Today was just a day fading into another And that can't be what a life is for." ing with 4,500 people in attendance it proved something akin to slow torture, the band driving the musical speed limit in a nearly two-hour set that lit several sparks but never caught fire until the closing of "Hangin-around." In between, it would have veered close to the ridiculous, were it not for the fact that the band delivered their folkie jams and down-tempo balladry with all the dry excitement their latest record, "This Desert Life." Duritz had joked early on that he has been accused of always writing the same song, but it's no joke. The sedative haze of "Rain King" and "Daylight Fading" were for millions? At its best, the band's rootsy swagger and earnest blue collar bar rock recalls past scholars of moody introspection like Van Morrison, but these influences and landmark recordings like "Astralweeks" express the hurt and loss of the human experience with universal emotions and an everyman sensibility. All three Counting Crows' efforts strain within the context of Duritz's troubles, colored by a sonic background that, while continuing to widen, remains peculiarly innocuous, as inoffensively pleasant as an Eagles record. That may work for the coffeehouse, but in a cavernous dwell to be pushed back to Jan. 20; Wednesday's gig at the Aragon was chatty and busy, all naked confession in song and droll conversation about the pearly dread-locked singer. He lectured about his girlfriends ("Four Days"), he complained about his goldfish ("Omaha"), he incessantly made note of the horrible illusion that is his richly successful rock 'n' roll life. Duritz's pain, it seems, is inescapable. 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