Egg(s)hell | Trap Door Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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Egg(s)hell 

When: Wed., Oct. 1 2014
Price: $10
Chicago's Trap Door Theatre has been running a sort of undeclared international theater festival for the last 20 years. Artistic director Beata Pilch and her colleagues regularly stage new and canonical works of the European avant-garde. They’ve toured from Paris to Bucharest. They've imported foreign artists to direct their shows. And now they’re turning their Bucktown space over to a bunch of Hungarians for a night. On October 1, the Budapest-based Maladype Theatre makes its Chicago debut with Egg(s)hell, a nonverbal 60-minute performance piece inspired by a one-word poem by Sándor Weöres, whom Maladype artistic director Zoltán Balázs calls "the 'modern classic' of Hungarian literature." That one word, "egg(s)hell," isn't just the title of the poem but its entire translation. Explains Balázs in an e-mail, "The original poem looks like: TOJÁS(h)ÉJ—that means: TOJÁS: EGG; ÉJ: NIGHT; letter H with EJ is HEJ that means SHELL. The poet is playing with the symbolic meanings of the egg, with the completeness of the egg's harmonic shape, with the darkness inside and the mysterious, inscrutable trait of it compared to the UNIVERSE around us." In a YouTube video clip of the piece, men in suits and women in dresses move among a flock of stuffed pink flamingos. Brown eggs of various sizes pop in, out, and between their mouths, get kicked around in a barefoot soccer scrimmage, thrown around in a flirtatious game of keep-away. The performers themselves get thrown around. The women, in particular, fall from heights into the men’s arms or climb on the men as if they were a Jungle Gym. Everybody strips down to skivvies. A few find new ways to dress up again. One performer paints another's face with the ash from a cigarette. It's a playful, rather beautiful thing to see. Of course, what happens at Trap Door may be entirely different. For one thing, the traveling version of Egg(s)hell is smaller and briefer than the 2008 original. For another, Balázs insists on maintaining an improvisatory spontaneity. To that end, he says, "The music . . . is from classical to modern and varies every night; the actors hear the mix on that particular night for the first time, and so their reaction and solutions are always fresh and authentic." —Tony Adler

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