Before “Stand By Me”, the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novella “The Body”, there was Ray Bradbury’s novel and play “Dandelion Wine”, a similar, but more aw, shucks rendering of the promise of summer, the companionship of friends, and how a bit of darkness can change a boy into a man.
Three or four years I ago I’d been those kids, I thought, as I watched college students and young professional’s stumble out of the Gin Mill and the Red Lion Pub on Lincoln Ave. on a Wednesday night. On my way to see Victory Gardens’ production of I sailed with Magellan, an adaptation of Stuart Dybek’s short story collection fictionalizing the 1950s Chicago of his youth, I realized that as one of these kids I’d probably be four Maker’s Mark and Cokes in to the night already. It’s not that I wasn’t cultured, but when you’re in your early twenties, plays are for weekend afternoons, and drinking with your friends is for anytime.
UMA productions current run of Obie award-winning playwright Rinne Groff’s Orange Lemon Egg Canary reminds one of Dan Savage’s syndicated Savage Love columns. While there’s no Zoophilia or appearances from Cirque du Soleil trained midgets, the play is a full on mélange of sex, intrigue, deception, love triangles, sharp knives, and magic. It’s also a bit of train wreck, a twofold amalgamation of unspeakable horror and utterly engrossing spectacle.
If you took the Richard Linklater movie Dazed and Confused and dropped it into to the Jewish enclave of Roger’s Park in the late 1970’s, you’d pretty much have the Lifeline Theatre Company’s dramatic production of “Crossing California.
The Diary of Anne Frank is the pre- Judy Blume bible for 13 year-old girls. It’s also the paragon depiction of Holocaust life, a hallowed text taught to witless schoolchildren, who in this time, would rather text message their friends, than understand why a precocious German girl has such a hold over their homework load. Count me as one of the witless, as I’ve somehow managed to avoid the text my entire life.