Creature Winds | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Creature Winds 

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Creature Winds, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Lunar Cabaret. Called in the program a "zenjazzbuddhafreudsonicinstallation for four voices," this is the tale of a complacent scientist who commits suicide after a moment of introspection irrevocably shakes his self-confidence. But audience members may be forgiven for not comprehending this story immediately, for composer Michael Zerang--credited in the playbill as arranger rather than director--is less concerned with the literal content of Bryn Magnus's lush text than with the music of its presentation.

This does not preclude images of stunning originality: when the scientist is asked the source of his brilliant career, he replies, "Genius scrimshawed on my bones." But what holds our attention for the 45 minutes of this a cappella oratorio are the intricate harmonies attained by its four performers: Virginia Montgomery, Beau and Jamie O'Reilly, and Magnus himself (substituting for Ned Folkerth on the night I attended). Whether speaking or singing, their expressive voices intertwine in patterns as complex and precise as those of a baroque cantata. True, the lines "You're a bombastic wheeze / You're an impotent comb-over," caroled in Jamie O'Reilly's exquisite soprano, may spark irreverent recollections of P.D.Q. Bach--and for that matter the later work of Maestro Subgum and the Whole, brother Beau's art-rock band. Still, a show proposing to re-create the sound of a tear being carried by the wind more than justifies its existence. --Mary Shen Barnidge


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The Great Leap Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Upstairs Theatre
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