Refuge | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


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REFUGE, Plasticene, at the National Pastime Theater. In Refuge, Dexter Bullard's movement-theater troupe introduces audiences to a dislocating, fascinating world where walls of glass, wood, and paper careen around the stage, depositing and gathering up mysterious suitcases and their owners with hypnotic speed. Just as the actor-dancers form tableaux, relationships, and rivalries but find no lasting refuge, these walls form ever-changing rooms, alleys, and barriers. But the performers' brief gestures and confrontations overlap to create compelling, cryptic stories in this tour de force of physical narrative. Accompanied by the eerie, pounding rhythms of Eric Leonardson's remarkable compositions, the performers hurl themselves around the stage, fall into stillness, and create acrobatic images of sexual and emotional intimacy, capping the piece with a violent, ironic baptism, a stunning moment of unexpected calm and satiation.

It's been clear ever since Plasticene's first production, Doorslam, that this is a group to watch. Refuge takes the task-oriented, comically exhausting physicality of Doorslam to a higher level, offering a visceral, witty, hallucinogenically sensual theater experience. --Carol Burbank


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