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Dylan Bolin, Tim Palecek and Emmitt Morgans create horror and power in "The Pillowman."
Dylan Bolin, Tim Palecek and Emmitt Morgans create horror and power in "The Pillowman." (Photo: Amanda Schlicher)

"The Pillowman" is a brutal and gruesome tale of the precious power of stories

You start out by driving past an accident on the road and you slow down to see the ambulance and the cop cars and the flashing lights and  maybe, just maybe, a victim.

The next step is when you watch a program on public television about the Nazi Holocaust and you can’t take your eyes off the horror of the images you see.

The final step is when you hear about another Isis beheading and you search online until you find it, and then you watch it.

That kind of horror-filled escalation is part of the fascination  of "The Pillowman," the dark drama written by Martin McDonagh and running at Soulstice Theatre in St. Francis.

To call this play "dark" is an understatement.

It is about Katurian (Tim Palecek), a story writer who is arrested after a series of murders of children resemble murders in his stories. The totalitarian state police are Tupolski (Dylan Bolin as the good cop) and Ariel (Emmitt Morgans as the bad cop).

The interrogation of Katurian is brutal, almost from the very beginning. The first of three acts sees the writer trying his best to preserve his sense of himself and preserve his stories, because he believes they are important to the world.

The parade of gruesome is, well, gruesome. We have children killed in the following manners: one small boy has his five toes cut off with a cleaver; a girl is made to swallow apple slices with razor blades inside; another girl is abused by her foster parents because she thinks she is Jesus and she is eventually killed by being crucified and then buried alive; there are deaths by smothering (by the pillowman) and electrocutions.

At some point in this play you almost want to shout "enough, already." The trap here is to think that McDonagh has written a play that glorifies the kind of sick violence that we all around us.

But, in truth, the play is really about the fantasies we all create, the lies we tell and the way we all hope that our stories will live forever.

Everyone in this play has a story, especially…

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Kay Allmand, Chris Klopatek, Chase Stoeger and Anna Cline (L to R) are part of the hilarity in "Jeeves Takes a Bow."
Kay Allmand, Chris Klopatek, Chase Stoeger and Anna Cline (L to R) are part of the hilarity in "Jeeves Takes a Bow." (Photo: Paul Ruffolo)

Chamber's "Jeeves" is a silly concoction that delivers lots of laughs

Borrowing a phrase from the famed Forrest Gump, silly is as silly does.

And nothing could be applied more accurately to the silliness that is "Jeeves Takes a Bow," the adaptation of the P. G. Wodehouse classic that opened at Milwaukee Chamber Theater Friday night.

Go to this play and forget about a lot of your normal theater-going experiences. There are no hidden meanings. There are no social implications. There is nothing that demands well-focused attention.

This is fun for fun’s sake. It’s the big bowl of trifle that you get even without stuffing yourself on bangers and mash or fish and chips.

And under the wise and detailed direction of Tami Workentin, this English delight moves along at just the right pace, allowing time for both laughter and breath without forcing a single moment.

At the heart of the story are high living joy seeker Bertie Woosteras and his manservant Jeeves, the two cloistered in an Apartment in New York. Joining in the early going is Binky, a member of the English mission to the United States.

The tone is set early when it’s revealed that Binky is in love with Ruby LeRoy, an actress who is starring in a new concoction called "Naughty Natalie." To further his love interest, Binky has told Ruby that he is really Bertie (hope you are with me thus far). And he has told her that his friend, Binky (who in this case is really Bertie) will write a special song for her show, even though in reality Bertie (who is being called Binky) doesn't know anything about music. 

Along comes Vivienne Duckworth, a tightly bound English dame who is in New York for two purposes: to write a book about the seedy side of the city and to announce her engagement to the real Bertie. We add to this mix the gangster Knuckles McCann, who turns out is Ruby’s dad, and you can see the ensuing adventures coming from a mile away.

It’s one thing after another, with Jeeves remaining both above the fray and the solver of problems and fixer of any dilemma that may ari…

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Zaza Pachulia is going to play a big role in the Bucks first playoff game against Chicago.
Zaza Pachulia is going to play a big role in the Bucks first playoff game against Chicago. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Bucks strap it on Saturday for surprising playoff berth against Bulls

At the start of the year nobody gave a single thought to the Milwaukee Bucks reaching the playoffs this year.

Everybody thought they’d be better than the last year's 15-win season, but the playoffs seemed like a dream.

Well, the dream is here and the Bucks enter the playoffs as the sixth seed, opening against the Chicago Bulls Saturday night in Chicago. The second game will be Monday night and then it's back to Milwaukee for two games, Wednesday night and Saturday late afternoon.

"Chicago is a tough team," said John Henson after learning that the Bulls would be the opponent. "We are going to have to strap it on and bring it. They’ve been there before and for us we have a lot of guys who are don’t have that much experience."

The Bucks are 1-3 against the Bulls this year but did win the last meeting on April 1. And, for the first time they managed to keep Pau Gasol from killing them. Gasol averaged over 25 points and over 14 rebounds a game against Milwaukee but in that game he was held to 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Bucks double teamed Gasol early in the possessions and it was effective.

"That was one of the best games we played all year," coach Jason Kidd said. "We played well for 48 minutes, mentally and physically. We’ll have to go back and look at that. I’m sure there were things that we can fix, but we played well."

A big task for Kidd, and other veterans on the team, is to impress on these young players how important every possession is during the playoffs. Ersan Ilyasova is one of those veterans.

"This is playoff basketball," he said. "And no matter who we play, it’s all about us. If we play the way we have this year it will be okay. If we play well, we’ll be good."

While Chicago has some nagging injuries to Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose, the Bucks are healthy.

"We got out of that last game without anybody getting hurt," Kidd said. "So now it’s time for playoff basketball. It will be a great experience for these kids."

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The parking spaces where you have to walk to the corner to pay are a tough hall for the disabled.
The parking spaces where you have to walk to the corner to pay are a tough hall for the disabled. (Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

LUKE meters can test physical limitations of some parkers

I recently suffered a health issue that caused me to start walking with a cane, and I never realized how unkind the city of Milwaukee can be.

My stroke left me with a balance problem. So, I walk slower and with a cane.

I was going to the Public Market this week and the only parking spot was on the west end of the street, the last spot. It was one of those spots without a meter but with a sign showing the number of the parking spot. 

In order to pay for the spot I had to drag myself all the way to the east end of the block. It took me forever since I now move at a snail's pace. 

I've always hated these things, but my hate has now reached huge levels. I can't imagine what it might be like for someone in a wheelchair or on crutches to have to make this long journey. 

The city likes these things because it places less pressure on those lovely parking checkers and reduces the manpower needed to collect cash from other meters. This is yet another example of government doing something to make it easy on itself even if it mean that things are harder for its citizens.

The city makes almost $5 million a year in revenue from parking meters. And now they are making it harder for disabled people to park Downtown.