A Disappearing Number

Chicago is known for storefront theaters—it's kind of our signature. The theaters may be small, but that's part of their charm: the intimate space puts you face to face with the actors, making you feel as though you're part of the action. Plus, ticket prices are much less expensive than the big shows, and they're even cheaper with upoming Chicago Theatre Week (February 9–19) discounts. Get a taste of Chicago's signature storefront-theater style at one of the following neighborhood productions: 



1. WIT presented by the Hypocrites at the Den Theatre



Dr. Vivian Bearing, a university professor and acclaimed John Donne scholar, has been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. After her diagnosis, she attempts to fight the battle with the strongest medication available. Much to her dismay, she struggles, and death looms. The experience has her perplexed, so she examines her feelings by dissecting Donne's Holy Sonnet X, "Death Be Not Proud" and relating it to her situation. The play takes place during her final hours on earth. She spends them in a soliloquy to the audience, recounting her life and coming to terms with her impending death.

Chicago actress Lisa Tejero magnificently portrays Dr. Bearing in this moving meditation on life and death. Under the incredible direction of Marti Lyons, Tejero and the cast effortlessly shift from one memory to another, giving the audience a glimpse into the life and psyche of this tremendous woman.

WIT, written by Margaret Edson, won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was also adapted into a film. The Hypocrites' production of WIT perfectly embodies storefront theater in Chicago, making it a must-see show for Chicago Theatre Week.

Den Theatre  |  1333 N. Milwaukee Avenue  |  773-398-7028
Runs through February 19.
Showtimes: Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m.  



2. Earthquakes in London at Steep Theatre


Earthquakes in London

Director Jonathan Berry tackles the first U.S. production of Tony-nominee and Olivier Award-winning playwright Mike Bartlett's Earthquakes in London. And it's quite the endeavor: not only does it feature a 15-person ensemble cast in a small storefront space, it tackles some intense subject matter. Earthquakes in London reminds us that our political climate isn't the only volatile climate we have to worry about.

The play follows three London sisters. Sarah, the oldest, is an environmental minister of the government; Jasmine, the youngest, is a student and a bit of a rebel; and the middle child, Freya, is pregnant and desperately worried about bringing a child into this world. Why is she worried? Their estranged father is a famous environmentalist. In his books, he predicts that the world will soon end due to man's effects on the environment.

Freya decides to visit her father after years of never seeing him. Instead of getting comfort, she feels her world turned upside down and things begin to fall apart. Bartlett examines both family and environmental dynamics in this thought-provoking play that doubles as a rallying cry for environmental protection.

Steep Theatre  |  1115 W. Berwyn Avenue  |  773-649-3186 
Runs through March 4. Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m.



3. A Disappearing Number at TimeLine Theatre


A Disappearing Number

A Disappearing Number is a critically acclaimed play originally devised in 2007 by the London-based international touring theatre company, Complicite. This ensemble based show is a beautiful blend of artistry, math, history and love. Like String Theory, all things are connected in this moving piece directed by TimeLine Associate Artistic Director Nick Bowling.

The play features the story of real-life math phenom Srinivasa Ramanujan. Ramanujan is a young Indian mathematician with no formal education. In 1913, he sends an out-of-the-blue letter full of amazing theorems to lauded British mathematician G.H. Hardy. Astounded by Ramanujan's letter, Hardy invites Ramanujan to Cambridge University to collaborate.

Hardy and Ramanujan's tale is told in tandem with a fictitious story about another unlikely couple, Ruth and Al. Ruth is a British mathematics professor who views math in the way poets view poetry, and Al is a businessman who doesn't know a thing about math. The two fall in love and their story interweaves through space and time with Hardy and Ramanujan's, highlighting the not-so-random connections between us all. With the help of beautiful projections and live music accompaniment, TimeLine's ensemble expertly brings this intriguing play to life for Chicago audiences.

TimeLine Theatre  |  615 W. Wellington Avenue  |  773-281-8463
Runs through April 9.
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays at 8 p.m. Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.. Sundays at 2 p.m.



4. The Tall Girls presented by Shattered Globe Theatre at Theatre Wit


The Tall Girls

The future doesn't look so bright for the residents of Poor Prairie. The Great Depression has hit the small Midwestern town hard, and the jobs have dried up along with the soil. But the local high school girls have found a glimmer of hope in the game of basketball. Could a game be their ticket out?

Almeda is a rambunctious teenager who loves basketball more than anything. Al's mother has passed, and the young girl has become too much for her father to handle. So her older cousin, Jean, has been shipped to Poor Prairie to care for her. Both Al and Jean are not pleased with the situation. But encouragement from Johnny, the mysterious new high school teacher/coach, leads Jean to join the basketball team as well. Al naturally views this as a threat at first, but ultimately basketball manages to help their relationship grow.

Despite their differences, the girls band together and try to overcome their unfortunate circumstances. The Tall Girls by Meg Miroshnik is inspired by the real life Midwestern girls basketball teams of the 1930's. You find yourself cheering on the young ladies as they maneuverer through the game and through life—sometimes successfully, sometimes not. If only for a moment, the girls manage to escape their difficult lives and write their own story. Ensemble Member Louis Contey cleverly directs this heartfelt Chicago premiere.

Theatre Wit  |  1223 W. Belmont Avenue  |  773-975-8150
Runs through February 25. Thursdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m. Sundays at 3 p.m.


Chicago Theatre Week runs February 9–19. Now in its fifth year, Chicago Theatre Week celebrates Chicago's vibrant theater scene with discounted tickets priced at $30, $15 or less! For a full list of participating productions and scheduled dates, please visit chicagotheatreweek.com.