Cedecece | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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One of the more frustrating aspects of the Chicago theater scene is a general lack of interest in work created anywhere but this country or the British Isles. (In fact, next month the Goethe Institute is hosting a conference to examine, among other things, why contemporary German theater is almost never produced in Chicago.) Chicagoan D.B. Griffith and his International Think-Tank for Conceptual Terrorism have taken a modest step toward rectifying this situation by hosting CeDeCeCe, a collaborative piece by Berlin's Grotest Maru and Prague's SCO.StageCode this weekend. Grotest Maru specializes in multimedia site-specific performances, a style of work dear to SCO cofounder Philip Schenker, whose former company, Dogtroep, played Navy Pier several years back. CeDeCeCe is a haunting, ambiguous piece that begins with the audience climbing the stairs to Bond's Loft, where a man is playing the guts of a piano like a harp. Other performers enact enigmatic rituals in the stairwell: one person performs a celebratory sacrament using an ashtray full of water, another attempts to give herself a dance lesson. Onstage a sleepy woman languishes in an armchair, visited by a series of nightmarish figures. Combining the ceremonial intensity of Jerzy Grotowski, the grotesque surrealism of Tadeusz Kantor, and butoh's physical rigor, the company offers a hallucinogenic escapade as disturbing as it is absurd; when the woman in the armchair discovers that her feet are buried in a mound of dirt, for example, she waters them. Devoid of narrative structure, excruciating in its methodical pace, the piece is rich in evocative detail and lyrical in its agonizing sweep. Bond's Loft, 1550 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, 773-278-5530. May 12 through 14: Friday-Sunday, 8 PM. $8.

--Justin Hayford

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