Dominium (L. The Right of Ownership) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Dominium (L. The Right of Ownership) 

DOMINIUM (L. The Right of Ownership), Great Beast Theater, at the National Pastime Theater. Michael Martin's convoluted play about the head and body games of sadomasochistic relationships is a catalog of theatrically and psychologically dysfunctional ambiguity. His characters struggle with internal and interpersonal trauma, enacting master/slave relationships for therapeutic reasons and for personal pleasure. The plot is a sado-romantic triangle interrupted at its most violent point by the unanticipated arrival of the lead character's mother, who orchestrates a bizarre sado-nuptial frenzy and disappears, leaving the three game players to toy with each other, then separate.

The play includes one apparently realistic S-M scenario, and it explains the "safe words" (words agreed on in advance that will end the scene) and other protective rules of the culture, forming a moral context for the sadomasochistic situation. However, Martin's obsessive stream-of-consciousness language makes the play feel more like a masturbatory cryptogram than a drama. Sexual satisfaction is not important in this talky narrative; confession, age regression, and escaping the body's pain are the climaxes induced by the S-M role-playing here. Overloaded with obvious images of purity, obscenity, despair, and power, Dominium confuses us instead of involving us in the psychology and erotics of S-M relationships.

--Carol Burbank

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
March 21
Performing Arts
Henchpeople Jarvis Square Theater
July 09

Popular Stories