Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods 

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A woman sings the Carpenters' "Top of the World" softly to herself. Another woman who might be auditioning for a part or looking for love says loudly, "I can sing. I can play guitar. I can type 60 words a minute. I don't bruise, so you can hit me and it won't show." A man with his hair hanging in his eyes lets his mouth gape open and, oblivious to the snot flowing from his runny nose, twitches, makes faces, laughs, crosses his wrists at his heart, and flaps his hands. These are some of the images in Maarten Vanden Abeele's 24-minute film of Meg Stuart's 2001 dance-theater piece, Alibi. The film is apparently more interpretation than documentation--it's described on Damaged Goods' Web site as a "visual reflection about dance, word, image, and movement." But judging by it, Stuart's two-hour multimedia work alternates between violence (a threesome hugs violently, a man kissing a woman smashes her up against a wall, another man's face is mashed into the floor) and clinical detachment or apathy (a bearded man confesses that he makes love to his wife and thinks of someone else, that he belongs to a satanic cult, that he's guilty of being an asshole). An enclosed space lined with windows on one side might be a control booth or an observation room at a mental hospital. A description of the piece on the Web site reads: "In Alibi the desire for the real clashes with a reality that has become a spectacle." These performances are Alibi's only U.S. showing; this is Damaged Goods' first appearance here since 1998, when the Brussels-based company made its MCA debut with Stuart's Appetite. Museum of Contemporary Art, theater, 220 E. Chicago, 312-397-4010. Opens Thursday, October 9, 7:30 PM. Through October 11: Friday-Saturday, 7:30 PM. $22. Note: On Thursday there will be a free postshow discussion with the artists. On Friday there will be a postshow dinner with the artists; $18-$28, separate Alibi ticket required. And on Saturday at 3 PM Stuart and local artists discuss the role of the dramaturge; free.

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