At That Point: Humans at Their Best and Worst | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

At That Point: Humans at Their Best and Worst 

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Performance poet Lisa Buscani's tumultuous word jams can bring the chaos of urban life into pinpoint focus. But after she watched a videotape of her last full-length solo performance, the linguistically torrential Carnivale Animale, she decided that her virtuoso wordplay was "ineffective." Her new piece, At That Point: Humans at Their Best and Worst, opens with nothing but short sentence fragments and an endlessly repeated "OK." In a world where solo performers carve out marketable ruts for themselves--could Spalding Gray, Jackie Mason, or even Laurie Anderson ever surprise us again?--Buscani's overhaul of her own technique may seem risky, especially since she's preparing to relocate to the product-crazed art world of New York. But her gamble has paid off in a work that surpasses its predecessor. Buscani's deceptively simple scenarios of potential transformation--waiting at the altar for the groom, waiting to break up with a long-term lover, waiting for the results of an HIV test--suggest that her characters ache for a meaningful right of passage. Yet the world around them sees change as uninteresting at best, a medical pathology at worst. A girl's first menses, for example, is rewarded with a cold speculum from an indifferent gynecologist. The girl's mother, by contrast, embodies the changeless world: her periods are so regular her womb could double as a watch. In At That Point predictability keeps the world safe but robs it of meaningful surprises. It's a lesson more solo performers should take to heart. Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln, 327-6666. Saturday, August 19, 10:30 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Yael Routtenberg.

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