“MacBeth” "It has blood, sword fights, murder and war," I told my son. "See, theater can be entertaining for you." Yes, my 13-year-old boy is into gore and guts, and that is why I thought this production of Macbeth by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater would be perfect for him. Actually, you get too much of the aforementioned scary stuff, at least for the age range the producers recommend, 10 and up. So much so that I think this one is better suited for the 12 and up crowd, and only if they know the story. Don't get me wrong, this is an exciting production of MacBeth for young people with the striking black costumes, the tattoos, the drums and the drama. I loved the use of black throughout but for a large circular red cloth that became almost a character unto itself. This is part of the Short Shakespeare! series this wonderful theater company has been doing for years to try and pull tweens and teens into the world of the Bard. And it is also part of the Quaker Family Saturdays program. So, this is 75 minutes of the classic story of the blood thirsty Macbeth, his mad lady and their push for power. But whatever the series or program, all you need care about is that it is well handled by the education staff. A cast member discusses the play with the audience and then the entire cast stays after to continue the talk, which was great. I have to admit, I liked the show more than my son, who is not yet a Shakespeare fan. But he did think this production was "cool for Shakespeare." Some of the students in the audience had been studying the play and those who had not learned a lot. Susy Schultz “MacBeth.” 11 a.m. Saturdays, Feb. 11, 18, 25, March 25, April 1, 8, 15 and 22. Recommended ages 12 and up. $15, $10 students, kids under 18. Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. 800 East Grand Ave., Chicago. (312) 595-5656, www.chicagoshakes.com.
Bambi II Disney’s newest straight-to-video offering is really just more of the same. A sweet motherless fawn (Bambi) is left to fend for himself because his father, the Prince, is ill-equipped to parent. For the first half of the movie, Bambi is ignored, chastised and forbidden to talk about his memories of his mother. By the time the Prince realizes the errors of his ways; my 3-year-old had already abandoned the movie and moved on to other things.
My 5-year-old stuck it out and did enjoy some funny scenes with Thumper and Flower, who once again show that “bestest friends” can overcome obstacles. These scenes of friendship, storytelling and growing up in the forest are the movie’s best. Of course, in the end, Bambi uses the lessons learned from his father and his friends to triumph. That’s a fine lesson for my son. Unfortunately, he also took away a message of having to work hard and not show fear in order to “make Daddy proud.”
While cute forest animals won’t appeal to kids much over the age of 7, (especially boys), parents of sensitive preschoolers should be aware of the movie’s hunting scenes where deer are chased by ferocious snarling dogs. No blood, but frightening just the same. Alena Murgia Bambi II. Disney DVD & Video. $19.99, http://disneyvideos.disney.go.com.
“Game On 2.0: The History, Culture and Future of Video Games” At home, we sometimes call my video-game-addicted 12-year-old son “Thumb Boy.” So getting him off the couch and into a museum isn’t the easiest thing—unless the museum happens to be offering an exhibit on video games.
The just-opened “Game On 2.0: The History, Culture and Future of Video Games” at the Museum of Science and Industry offers 100 games for playing, 20 of them new this year. We didn’t visit this incarnation of the exhibit, but my son loved it when we visited the 1.0 version last summer. He loved it so much that we couldn’t get him out to see the rest of the museum. His only complaint: The “good” games were monopolized by 20-something men who weren’t interested in giving a kid a turn.
So, if you go with your own “Thumb Boy” (or “Thumb Girl” although the vast majority of the players when we visited were men and boys), be prepared to spend plenty of time inside the exhibit studying the history and culture of gaming while the kids exercise their thumbs. And be prepared to step in when the big guys forget that everyone should get a turn. Cindy Richards
“Game On 2.0: The History, Culture and Future of Video Games.” Through April 30. Families. $16, $14.50 seniors, $12 kids for general admission and “Game On.” Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago. (773) 684-1414, www.msichicago.org.