Some people can't get enough of the holidays; others are over them the minute they start hearing carols in October. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle: excitement for the season coupled with exhaustion from all its demands. No matter where you stand, an escape into another world—preferably, one with no Christmas trees to remind us of the gifts we still have left to buy—never hurts. So whether you've had it with the holidays or are just looking for change of pace, we've found five comedies, dramas and a musical rom-com to make your spirits bright—without all the holiday hoopla.
Drive into December with Jeff Award-winning director Andrew Jessop and Awkward Pause Theatre Company's cast of 10 actors, who explore the concepts of relationship and perception through a collection of seven dark one-act plays by Neil LaBute ("In the Company of Men"), all of which take place in the front seat of a car.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 29 at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Tickets: $10. 773-398-7028; awkwardpausetheatre.com
"The Dead Prince"
From The Strange Tree Group's Jeff Award-winning artistic director Emily Schwartz ("The Three Faces of Doctor Crippen") comes this musical rom-com in which a princess discovers to her dismay that the man who's supposed to be her true love has died before she's even met him. But when she discovers a way to steal him back through time, the quest leads her to corpses, bat attacks and the consequences of playing with fate. Lifeline Theatre ensemble member Paul S. Holmquist directs.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 22 at The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St.
Tickets: $15. 312-742-8497; strangetree.org
Bare Knuckle Productions and director Maggie Speer unleash a ferocious pack of ladies—and a few dudes—in this gender-and-race-blind adaptation of the Quentin Tarantino flick, "Inglourious Basterds," in which a group of WWII-era Jewish-American soldiers wreak havoc on a mission to destroy Nazi Germany.
Go: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 4 p.m. Sunday through Jan. 25 at Bare Knuckle Productions Ravenswood Studio, 4001 N. Ravenswood Ave. #603-C
Tickets: $15-$20. bareknuckleproductions.org
Money and status rule—or do they? That's the question posed in this satire by Brooklyn-based playwright Molly Smith Metzler making its Chicago premiere under the direction of the Goodman Theatre's associate producer, Steve Scott. The story centers on two sisters—one who earns six figures as a personal assistant to a spoiled socialite and thinks she's living the dream; the other, a regular gal from Buffalo who lives with their mom and thinks her sister's a sellout.
Go: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday through Jan. 12 at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.
Tickets: $25-$30; $20-$25 for students. 773-728-7529; redtwist.org
"Blood on the Cat's Neck"
For its 20th season, the company remounts its 1996 production of the experimental vampire comedy by the late German playwright and filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder—directed by Trap Door's artistic director, Beata Pilch—in which a naked female alien studies democracy on Planet Earth through biting (so to speak) encounters with lovers, models, butchers, teachers, soldiers and girls.
Go: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 28 at Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland St.
Tickets: $20-$25. 773-384-0494; trapdoortheatre.com