Theater is just so darn ephemeral. You can't hang it in a gallery for posterity, you can't shelve it in a library for future perusal. When a show ends, it leaves nary a trace on the space it once dominated. Over the next two weeks, there's a dozens of shows slated to vanish into history. Here's an alphabetically ordered list of six to see before they disappear.
Timeline Theatre (615 W. Wellington)
The titular Mesopotamian goddess of love and war is front and center in Broadway vet Kimberly Senior's direction of playwright Michele Lowe's double-sided love story. At the heart of the piece: the ever-intriguing actor Demetrios Troy as Yasin Shalid, an Iraqi museum curator passionate about safeguarding his country's antiquities and artifacts, especially a priceless statue of Inana. Shalid is also a newlywed, and matters of marriage, culture and preservation become entwined in a twisting plot that depicts both the gasp-inducing cruelty of the Taliban and the resilience of the Iraqis living under the regime's strictures.
Final performance: July 26
Tickets: $39 - $52, $29 - $42 students
Crime Scene: The Next Chapter
Collaboraction Theatre (1579 N. Milawukee)
Like ATC's "The Projects" (below), Collaboraction doesn't blink when it comes to facing deeply troubling aspects of city life. Like "The Projects," this docudrama is shaped from interviews with a cross-section of Chicagoans who have been impacted by crime. Cops, criminals, assault survivors and the grieving loved ones homicides leave behind are among those providing an in-depth portrait of the people behind the statistics.
Final performances*: June 12-15, 18-21
*Saturday, June 13, Collaboraction's monthly "Let Hope Rise," series continues with a free interactive "variety show/happening" featuring gospel, hip-hop and dance performances as well as free pizza. The event kicks off at noon at the Austin Town Hall, 5601 W. Lake St. Variety show is at noon, Collaboraction performance starts at 1 p.m., post-show discussion at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets: $15 - $30
Jackalope Theatre at Broadway Armory Park (5917 N. Broadway)
There's nothing like a good crypto-historical comedy is there? Jackalope delivers just that with Andrew Burden Swanson's "Lunacy!" Conspiracy theorists will love the plot, which depicts a frantic, way-behind-deadline NASA faking the 1969 moon landing that John F. Kennedy promised would take place by the end of the decade. Donald Rumsfeld (yes, that Donald Rumsfeld) is the anti-hero/master moon manipulator here, directing a cadre of CIA agents through a fake lunar landing filmed in a backlot at MGM. If you're not a conspiracy theorist, you're still apt to get pulled in to the skyhigh shenanigans.
Final performances: June 11-14, 18-20
Tickets: $15, $20
The Project(s) - pictured at top
American Theatre Company (1909 W. Byron)
When ATC Artistic Director PJ Paparelli, 40, died in a Scotland car crash last month, he left behind a legacy embodied by this harrowing drama. Rooted in interviews Paparelli and others did with Chicago public housing residents, the production packs a visceral punch. Statistically, it's safe to say most of the theater-going demographic doesn't have a whole lot of experience with living in subsidized housing. For them, "The Projects" will be a glaring eye-opener as well as a mesmerizing 90 minutes.
Final performances: June 12-14, 17-21
Tickets: $43 - $48, free to former and current public housing residents
The Secret Garden
Court Theatre (5535 S. Ellis)
The musical adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1911 novel sounds gorgeous under the baton of gifted conductor Doug Peck, who has infused the story of orphan Mary Lennox with the sounds of India. Oud, sitar and melodic harmonic minors shimmer through Lucy Simon's score as Mary is forced to move in with an emotionally broken uncle after her parents die of cholera. The story spins like a fever dream through the teeming, vibrant Colonial India of Mary's early childhood, travelling to the bleak, austere heath in Northern England and ultimately to a verdant, impossibly colorful garden that symbolizes redemption and rebirth.
Final performances: June 12-14, 17-21
Tickets: $35 - $45
Trust Us/Screw You
The Neo-Futurists at the Neofuturarium (5153 N. Ashland)
In the great Chicago tradition of fast-fingered hornswogglers, Chicago's only theater above a funeral parlor presents a show of chicanery and con games. Think you can out-bamboozle the (con) artists on stage? You probably won't be so sure by the close of the show, which draws on the works of Mark Twain, Herman Melville as well as clip joints and snake-oil salesmen. But unlike the inevitable rage/shame that ensues when you fail to outwit those cup-and-balls hucksters who ply their trade at the back of the bus, the Neos leave their marks laughing. Closing night (June 17) is a bonus round, with the Neos promising additional "booze and beguilements" to ticket holders.
Final Performances: June 11-13, 17
Tickets: $25 VIP seating, $20 general admission, $10 students, seniors
Photos from top: "The Project(s)" by Michael Brosilow; "Inana" by Lara Goetsch; "Crime Scene: The Next Chapter" courtesy of Collaboraction Theatre; "Lunacy!" by Joel Maisonet; Trust Us/Screw You courtesy of Oomphotography