During the frigid January of 1994, Remains Theater exhorted people to attend its production of Caryl Churchill's Mad Forest by emblazoning a banner across its print advertisement proclaiming "SCREW THE WEATHER!" However brutally the snow and chill may have inaugurated 2014, it won't stop us from enjoying ourselves at a nice, warm, well-staged play.
Seanachai Theatre's timely ensemble-based interpretation of Conor McPherson's Seafarer at the Den defied the holiday hullabaloo to extend until Feb. 1 ( phone 866-811-4111 ), while Pride Films and Plays' revival of Lillian Hellman's 1934 shocker, The Children's Hour, continues at the Flatiron through Feb. 9 ( 800-832-3006 ) and Shattered Globe's revival of Timberlake Wertenbaker's Our Country's Good at Theater Wit through Feb. 20 ( 773-975-8150 ). Oracle's remount of The Mother offers a somber look at maternal duties according to Brecht from Jan. 23-March 1 ( 252-220-0269 ), and the Side Project, after opening the rarely-performed Through the Leavesstarring Chicago favorites Laurie Larson and H.B. Wardduring the new year's week snowstorm, gamely continues to Feb. 2 ( 773-340-0140 ).
Strawdog's remount of Pontypool, Tony Burgess' paranoia-fueled science-fiction thriller, offers visceral heat through Feb. 2 ( 773-528-9889 ), as does Bare Knuckle Productions' Inglourious Bitches at the Ravenswood Studios through Jan. 25 ( 773-998-2671 ), and if seasonal affective disorder makes you long for nothing more than a good laugh, you can find those at Commedia Beauregard's irreverent The Mandrake running at the Raven through Feb. 4 ( 800-838-3006 ) or at Old Jews Telling Jokes at the Royal Georgenow featuring guest appearances by Chicago celebs telling their own favorite jokesthrough March 30 ( 312-988-9000 ).
Following on last year's harvest of reconceived interpretations from the classic repertoire, Idle Muse presents Rites and Sacrifices, updating Euripides' The Suppliant Women from 423 BC to a more recent post-war domestic crisis ( Feb. 22-March 23; 773-340-9438 ), as does Polarity with Macbeth at the Greenhouse ( Feb. 1-March 2;773-404-7336 ) and Red Theater's Three Soldiers ( For Sisters ), which views the thwarted dreams of Chekhov's Prozorov siblings from the vantage of their paramours ( Feb. 22-March 23; 773-733-0540 ).
Lifeline Theatre unveils Christopher M. Walsh's new adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities ( Feb. 24-April 6; 773-761-4477 ) and Northlight debuts Jon Jory's page-to-stage translation of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones through Feb. 23 ( 847-673-6300 ). City Lit's traditional interpretation of Shakespeare's most tune-filled play, The Tempest, is enhanced by Kingsley Day's fresh new score ( Feb. 3-March 16;773-293-3682 ), Teatro Vista, in residency at the Biograph, relocates Arthur Miller's tale of post-WW II immigrant aspirations, A View from the Bridge, to modern-day Pilsen ( April 15-May 18; 773-871-3000 ), while The Hypocrites get a jump-start on the festival season with a trilogy of short plays presented under the collective title The Tennessee Williams Project, running through March 2 at the Chopin ( 773-525-5991 ).
The season also features a quartet of plays focused on extraordinary women, beginning with Joan of Arcas portrayed by Jean Anouilh in The Lark, and staged by Promethean Theatre at the Athenaeum ( Jan. 25-Feb. 22; 773-935-6875 ), and by George Bernard Shaw in Saint Joan, performed as a concert reading by ShawChicago at the Ruth Page ( Feb. 1-24; 312-337-6453 ). House Theatre's current company sorceress, Paige Collins, conjures magic in The Rose and the Rime at the Chopin ( Jan. 26-March 9; 773-278-1500 ) and Henrik Ibsen's rebellious wife wreaks domestic havoc in Hedda Gabler at Glencoe's Writers Theatre ( through March 16; 847-242-6000 ).
Audiences will find popular favorites like J.M. Synge's The Playboy of the Western World on the Raven mainstage ( Feb. 10-April 5;773-338-2177 ) and August Wilson's Seven Guitars at Hyde Park's Court Theatre ( through Feb. 9; 773-753-4472 ), as well as recent premieres like Lynn Nottage's Ruined, presented by Eclipse Theatre at the Athenaeum as part of their "one season, one playwright" program from April 21-May 25 ( 773-935-6875 ). Others are rarely-seen landmark dramas like Peter Nichols' 1960s-vintage A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, presented by Stage Left at Theater Wit ( through Feb. 16; 773-975-8150 ) and nostalgic family comedies like St. Charles' Fox Valley Repertory resurrection of Cheaper by the Dozen, hearkening to an age when 12 children were not considered excessive progeny ( March 27-April 3; 630-584-6342 ).
With the worst of 2014 over ( let's hope ), it's time for us to seek reminders of resiliency and renewal. We can look for inspiration to our gardens or baseball teams, but Ars Victrix"only art endures"so why shouldn't we also find it at the theater?