Practical Anatomy | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Practical Anatomy 

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In Elizabeth Bagby's underdeveloped new musical for the Sansculottes Theater Company, a doctor examines a corpse and declares, "No marks of violence"--although a sheet covers most of the body. It's a typical ill-conceived moment. Bagby takes nearly three hours to tell the saga of two notorious Irish drunkards who murdered 16 Edinburgh residents in 1828 and made a small fortune selling the bodies to anatomist Robert Knox. Her characters and plot are sketchy, and she never dramatizes the dehumanizing forces of poverty and xenophobia that supposedly lie behind the protagonists' misdeeds. Director Terry Selucky's hesitant cast, mostly nonsingers, struggles through Bagby's often affecting folk ballads while a four-piece band fights to stay in tune. Through 2/12: Wed-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3 PM, Storefront Theater, Gallery 37 Center for the Arts, 66 E. Randolph, 312-742-8497, $10-$15.

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