Chicago Tap Theatre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Chicago Tap Theatre 

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It's a clever idea to exploit the conversational aspect of tap in a narrative piece: tappers onstage together usually seem to be talking to one another, arguing, conspiring, cracking jokes. And it's courageous of Mark Yonally, artistic director of the year-old Chicago Tap Theatre, to turn the usually upbeat form of tap on its head: his new 75-minute dance-theater piece, Silence, deals with suicide, murder, and the anomie of modern life. Divided into 11 sections, this work for 11 dancers features several main characters: a prostitute, her husband, a psychiatrist, an artist, the artist's agent, and a "confused man" (played by Yonally himself). The characters' stories are somewhat interrelated--in some cases they're connected by the psychiatrist, in other cases their relationship is unclear. The prostitute's is probably the most compelling, in part because it's the least clear despite--or because of--a section of snapshots showing her progression from happy wife to unhappy sex worker. Meanwhile the other characterizations tend toward stereotypes: the agent is harried, the artist bedeviled by her celebrity, the husband cruel, the psychiatrist first detached and then overly concerned. The confused man remains somewhat obscure, at times seeming well-intentioned, at others downright evil. Set to a trip-hop score and outfitted with just a few telling props--pill bottles, glasses filled with Alka-Seltzer or something more potent--Silence is an interesting effort (complete with "trailers" for upcoming performances by other companies) to draw nondance audiences into dance. Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 773-342-4141. Through May 24: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM. $12-$20.

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