Second Chance

Race drama makes its Midwest premiere.

Magnapop Odeon Thursday, March 24
Karamu's Split Second explores a decision - made in the heat of the moment and its tragic - aftereffect.
Karamu's Split Second explores a decision made in the heat of the moment and its tragic aftereffect.

In Split Second, opening Friday at Karamu, a black cop chases a white car thief down a Manhattan street on a scorching Fourth of July night. Cornered, the perp tries to talk his way out of the heated situation. To put it more bluntly, "He tries to get all black with him," says director Terrence Spivey.

But the by-the-book policeman doesn't give in, and the white guy "throws all of these racial epithets out," says Spivey. "And the cop makes a decision that will follow him for the rest of his life." The officer finds himself on trial, trying to answer the nagging questions everyone is asking: "Did he still have the right to do what he did?" inquires Spivey. "Just because he's black and in uniform?"

The play was first produced off-off Broadway in 1984 (which might explain why the crook does a bit of moonwalking at one point), but its racially explosive center still simmers. "It's a sympathetic journey," says Spivey. "The mind triggers a lot of things." Split Second is at Karamu House (2355 East 89th Street) through April 24. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $8 to $14; call 216-795-7077. -- Michael Gallucci

In Bed With Red
Quartet hooks up with colorful orchestra.

SAT 4/2

"There's a difficulty in finding words for us right now," admits Dorothy Lawson, cellist for Ethel, an amplified string quartet. "All we can say, for the time being, is we're not exactly this or that." Adds violinist-composer Todd Reynolds: "Just don't call us unengaged." One thing's for sure: The avant-garde Ethel -- which plays classical and rock music -- is about to join a band with a well-defined classical identity -- Red {an orchestra}. Saturday's concert, Ethel/Red, will mark Ethel's first appearance with an orchestra; the classically trained electric string players usually perform alone or with rock groups. "This is a huge opportunity for us," says Lawson. "We haven't tried this element before. We're receiving music from composers who are also speaking in different voices. It wasn't our specific effort to choose them. The music just seemed to be coming out." Show time is at 8 p.m. at Masonic Temple Auditorium, 3615 Euclid Avenue. Tickets range from $15 to $59, available by calling 216-519-1733. -- Zachary Lewis

Hillbilly Ha Ha
Larry the Cable Guy has come to fix America.

FRI 4/1

Larry the Cable Guy's brand of redneck comedy can be just as limiting and typecast as the urban humor in which his Def Comedy Jam brethren traffic. But his heartland yuks are successful for one reason: Wal-Mart shoppers love Larry and his Blue Collar TV cohorts, Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall. The same folks who grin every time they see that damn smiley-face rollback logo sporting a funny hat and eyepatch laugh loudly at Larry's ultrapatriotic, red-state-leaning jabs at liberals, Hollywood, and big-city thinkin'. That's a mighty big chunk of America. Larry the Cable Guy plugs in at 8 p.m. Friday at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center, 2000 Prospect Avenue. Tickets are $39.75, available by calling 216-687-9292. -- Michael Gallucci

Count Chocula on Prozac

THU 3/31

At Thursday's Monster Lotería Tour 2005, Chicago filmmakers Jim Finn and Arthur Jones present a bunch of short movies they've made over the past few years. Included in the program is Jones' new animated Monster Team, in which Saturday-morning cartoons are set in the real world, where chronic depression is dished out with the Cocoa Puffs. It starts at 8 p.m. at the Gallery of Photographic Art, 2512 Church Street. Admission is $5; visit for more info. -- Michael Gallucci

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