Polyphony--A Play About Going | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Polyphony--A Play About Going 

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Polyphony--A Play about going, Both Hands Theatre Company, at Center Theater. Parents lamenting the high cost of children's toys should note what the Both Hands Theatre Company accomplishes with a mere three trunks and 18 suitcases. Luggage implies travel, of course--and a trio of travelers like this one foreshadows disagreement. Sure enough, despite repeated exclamations of "Let's go!" "I'm leaving!" and "Are we there yet?" these three continue to delay their departures. First they require favorable weather--which they attempt to assure through the three-way juggling of almanacs. Also forestalling their travels are a last-minute change of clothes, a quick snack, and a minor illness. Most obstructive, however, is the spiritual baggage each would-be wayfarer must pack or discard before moving on.

Under the direction of Cheryl Chamblee, this ensemble-generated text is delivered in baroque spoken-word counterpoint all but eclipsed by the actors' inventive movement and use of props: valises are stacked to form walls, Pullmans are slammed to the floor in intricate Stomp-style syncopations, and an umbrella is transformed into a grocery bag. The action is accompanied by an offstage bassist--implored at one point to "play something happy, will ya?" He honors the request.

Theatergoers desiring a linear route or intellectual destination are advised to bring their own to this hour-long excursion, where the fun is all in getting there.

--Mary Shen Barnidge


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