From bawdy songs to orgies, these puppet shows go far beyond child's play.
You could opt for haunted houses, freaky films or clichéd costume parties this Halloween. Or you could go for something truly creepy: puppet shows for grown-ups. Not suitable for young children, these shows feature dolls behaving badly, selling their souls, spewing salty language and even getting it on. Here are your tickets to red-hot puppet-on-puppet action.
Blair Thomas and Company
A veritable puppetgasm, Blair Thomas’s newest avant-garde play, Hard Headed Heart: A Chicago Neighborhood Tour, uses hand, shadow and marionette creations as vehicles for adapting other artists’ work to the stage. Divided into three parts, the play includes a puppet-filled interpretation of a Louis Armstrong song and a visual translation of the Wallace Stevens poem “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” Thomas also gets dirty with a risqué tale of matrimony. Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N Lincoln Ave (773-871-3000). Fri 30 at 8pm; $20, advance $15.
Proving that no audience can resist laughing with (and sometimes at) a puppet with a walker, the improv comedy troupe Felt isn’t afraid to let its fucked-up sense of humor shine. Pushing R- (and sometimes X-) rated dolls to their limit—we’re talking full-on puppet orgies, which resemble Sesame Street characters doin’ the nasty—Felt’s Wednesday night residency at iO is always deliciously bawdy and side-splittingly funny. iO, 3541 N Clark St (773-880-0199). Wed 4 at 8pm, $5.
Puppetry of the Penis
Forget strings and socks (and anything kid-related); in this show, the “puppets” are made out of live penises, scrotums and testicles. Contorting their ding dongs into 40 sympathy-inducing positions with names like the Eiffel Tower and the Atomic Mushroom, two “genital origamists” perform the entire show nude. Viewers interested in turning their own sex organs into a novelty act can learn the trick of the month at puppetryofthepenis.com (October features the Hamburger). Lakeshore Theater, 3175 N Broadway (773-472-3492). Dec 4–6, at 7:30pm, $39.50.