Jane Comfort and Company | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Jane Comfort and Company 

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The protagonists in Jane Comfort's Persephone and Underground River both travel to an underworld, an experience that comes across as simultaneously liberating and dangerous. But their destinations are very different: where Persephone of course visits Hades' kingdom and becomes his bride, the person represented by four dancers in Underground River is a girl in a coma, trapped in her own psyche. The newer of the two pieces, Persephone, suffers a bit for its predictability, but 1998's Underground River is a joyful, often hilarious exploration of a state we might not think of as fun. The four dancers run around with a tattered umbrella, make a small cloth puppet stand up and finally fly and swim, and manipulate folded pieces of paper to look like birds, creating the sense of a childlike being charmingly detached from the demands of everyday life, represented in voice-overs by her parents and perhaps a physical therapist. But when the character eventually walks away from the voices calling her, I found it devastating. I guess I've reached the age where I identify with the grieving moms: while Persephone's travails pretty much left me cold--I knew exactly what she was learning underground, and I didn't care--Demeter's wails went right to my heart. Unfortunately she's not the focus of the dance. Opens Thu 12/2, 8 PM. Through 12/4: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Dance Center of Columbia College, 1306 S. Michigan, 312-344-8300, $20-$24. Note: Comfort is giving a talk Friday, 12/3, at 7 PM for ticket holders, and there will be a family matinee Saturday, 12/4, at 3 PM (a workshop begins at 2:15 PM); $10 adults, $6 children.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Arthur Elgort.


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