Playgoers impatient for destination summer festivals in Spring Green, Bloomington or Ontario's Stratford can get in practice at currently running double- or even triple-feature "marathon" events. These would include the nine-hour “Hammer Trinity”—House Theater of Chicago's compilation of its 2012 The Iron Stag King, 2013 The Crownless King and now-concluding The Excelsior King—or Steppenwolf's Garage Repertory Series, featuring a revolving roster of plays presented by a trio of companies reflecting Chicago's prolific storefront circuit. Extreme theatergoing aficionados can also look forward to the return of The Hypocrites' twelve-hour All Our Tragicthis summer.

For those preferring their entertainment in smaller portions, however—no Netflix parties, in other words—the spring season offers plenty of standalone classic and revival fare, too.

Classics and productions based on classics:

All's Well That Ends Well, Stage Left at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. You can't get more classic than Shakespeare, but Elizabethan domestic drama has a way of transferring to Mafia culture with surprising ease. (April 18-May 24;

The Venetian Twins, Piccolo Theater, 600 Main St. in Evanston. Long-lost twin brothers are reunited in 1747 Venice—Carlo Goldoni's no slouch in the classical comedy division, either. (Playing through May 9;

Three Sisters, The Hypocrites at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. We've heard the Prozorov family complain of being stuck in the boondocks, but any play with Mary Williamson in the cast promises new insights into the malaise brought on by boredom. (April 22-June 6;

Lady Windermere's Fan, Dead Writers Theater Collective at Stage 773, 1225 W. Belmont Ave. Oscar Wilde wrote plays beside Earnest and Salome, you know—even one like this, about marital secrets and a mother's sacrifice. (April 17-June7;

Sense and Sensibility, Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand Ave. Only two sisters this time, but neither of the Misses Dashwood knows her own mind, so it takes Jane Austen and a musical score to sort things out. (April 18-June 7;

A Doll's House, Definition Theatre at the Chopin, 1543 W. Division St. Nora Helmer was the prototype for runaway housewives searching for identity, her legacy still relevant today. (April 3-May 3;

Anne of Green Gables, Provision Theater, 1001 W. Roosevelt Rd. Generations of women all over the world have shared in the adventures of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Canadian orphan-girl heroine. (Playing through April 7;

A few years shy of being classics:

Two Trains Running, Goodman Theater, 170 N. Dearborn St. August Wilson may prove our country's greatest African-American playwright—if you haven't seen his plays yet, Chester Gregory in the cast might convince you that it's time. (Playing through April 18;

Travesties, Remy Bumppo at the Greenhouse, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. James Joyce, Vladimir Lenin and Tristan Tzara under one roof, as recalled by an old foozle of uncertain memory and set down by the hyperarticulate Tom Stoppard—what's not to like? (March 30-May 3;

The Little Foxes, Goodman Theater, 170 N. Dearborn St. Forget your Games of Thrones—the machinations of the all-American Hubbard clan in pursuit of money and power are a match for monarchs. (May 2-June 7;

Balm in Gilead, Griffin Theater at the Den, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. Lanford Wilson's panoramic portrait of urban derelicts—the play that made Steppenwolf's reputation in 1980—is refreshed for a country once again finding itself in financial straits. (Playing through April 19;

Tiger at the Gates, Promethean Theater at the Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Jean Giraudoux's antiwar statement—originally titled, “The Trojan War Will Not Take Place”—is as timely today as when written in 1935. (March 30-April 25;

Crimes of the Heart, Step Up Productions at Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. The youngest of the three sisters in Beth Henley's Pulitzer-winning play has just shot her husband—and that's just the start of the family's troubles. (May 8-June 14;

Perennial favorites and second chances:

Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Eclipse Theater at the Athenaeum, 2936 N. Southport Ave. Terrance McNally paints a Chekhovian picture of heterosexuals on Fire Island struggling to understand gay sensibilities in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. (April 20-May 24;

Beast on the Moon, Raven Theater, 6957 N. Clark St Richard Kalinoski's play recounts the attempts of Armenian holocaust survivors to build a new life in the United States. (April 21-June 6;

On an Average Day, Spartan Theater at the Flatiron, 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Two estranged brothers try to effect a reconciliation in John Kolvenbach's portrait of a society suffocating under ennui and indifference. (March 27-April 12;

The Jungle, Oracle Theater, 3809 N. Broadway. This remount of the award-winning storefront adaptation of Upton Sinclair's scathing expose of labor relations in the meat industry at the dawn of the twentieth century offers audiences who missed it its first time a second chance to see it. (March 26-April 25;

Coming up in early June is the remount of Rasheeda Speaking, Joel Drake Johnson's look at the complexities of race in the white-collar workplace that was a hit for Rivendell Theater in the winter of 2014. Don't forget, too, a revival of Love and Remains—the lurid tale of disaffected Winnipeg singles and serial killers you might recall under the title Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love—by Cor Theater, the company that brought us the visceral Skin Tight.


pictured: Anne of Green Gables

Key Subjects: 
Chicago, Raven Theater,
Mary Shen Barnidge
Publication Credit: 
This article first appeared in Windy City Times, March 2015
The long and short of it: Classics and near-classics