Jellyeye | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Most of the commercial images surrounding the winter solstice are highly domesticated: cheery elves in furry red suits fulfill our every need; a glowing fire is securely contained by a fireplace; neatly wrapped packages hold sufficient supplies from Eddie Bauer and L.L. Bean to last us the rest of the winter. But Jellyeye, Chicago's unique percussion-movement troupe, conveys an older, far more primitive vision of the change of the year, in which fires burn out of control, physical needs are a ravaging hunger, and the gods must be appeased by rituals that recall the cruel vitality of spring. At least that's how I see the group's performances as the December entry on Pegasus Players' subscription roster. Performing several movement-and-music pieces, including two songs composed and sung by artistic director Shu Shubat, Jellyeye evokes a landscape at once spare and bleak and rich with energy. At one end of their artistic spectrum are Micro Fez and Blood Lotus, full ensemble pieces whose careful choreography and densely arranged rhythms are presented with a combination of utter precision and abandon. At the other end is Heaven Above Me, a song accompanied by visual images so fragile they seem about to dissipate at every moment, as figures in hoop skirts lit from within move slowly across the stage like elegant Victorian windup toys. It's the kind of performance that will carry you through the long, raw, dark days to come. Pegasus Players, O'Rourke Performing Arts Center, Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson, 773-878-9761. Through December 21: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 2 PM. $17-$19. --Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still by Lesley A. Martin.


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