Can't Take Johnny to the Funeral | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Can't Take Johnny to the Funeral 

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There is something curiously generous about Goat Island's performance pieces. Curious because on one level the company gives its audiences very little: their highly physical, utterly nonlinear performances not only don't make literal sense but defy singular, uniform interpretation. But their images are so carefully and playfully constructed, from the most ordinary gestures and objects, that they seem to take on their own significance. In other words, Goat Island's work is as frustrating, mysterious, and ultimately exhilarating as falling in love. This analogy fits their new piece, Can't Take Johnny to the Funeral, especially well; at least on one level, the piece is about the impossibility of letting go of love. With their characteristic deadpan humor and physical energy, the performers sometimes fling themselves and one another around the room, sometimes tenderly caress each other, without ever letting us in on their true intentions or feelings. The piece may sound self-indulgent, but the key is that the performers never ask us to understand. Instead we are simply asked to respond to it; we complete the work. We, in fact, are the ones making art. It may not sound like much on paper, but do your imagination a favor and catch the show. You'll find as much there as you are willing to see. Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, October 17 (615 W. Wellington, 280-1025). Thursday, 8 PM, $25.

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

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