Eros in Thanatos and Down in the Mouth | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Eros in Thanatos and Down in the Mouth 

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Eros in Thanatos and Down in the Mouth, Dramatist Revolutionary Army, at Wing & Groove Theatre. The second of these two one-acts is too fragmented to work, but at least playwright Dominique Gallo makes a serious effort to communicate. Jaimie-Lee Wise's direction is sharp and rhythmic, particularly in the comic and largely wordless first half. To the haunting accompaniment of Mr. Music (Fazal Miles), a woman (Ashley Simone) sleepwalks through her day typing random numbers. But her nights are vivid, as she's haunted by a creature (Gallo, an agile mime with an expressive face) bearing a story of child abuse. Unfortunately, the infusion of words turns the piece into ordinary melodrama, and the script's confused, conflicting accounts end up being frustrating: words create the expectation of meaning. In any case, the most powerful scene--the woman alternately torturing and caressing the creature, trapped with a bag over its head secured by a belt--is so agonizing that any sound but a scream is beside the point.

Try to come in after intermission, because Eros in Thanatos is a repugnant piece of misogyny masquerading as sexual daring. Playwright-director Scott Byrnside's tale of God, drugs, and sadomasochism features female characters who are literal vampire lesbians of Sodom. With its parade of male fears--women perform vasectomies on men without their consent, fuck them in the ass with dildos we prefer to them, and abort "their" children--it should be called "The Vagina Dentata Monologues."

--Kelly Kleiman


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