The Counsel of the Moon | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Counsel of the Moon 

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Teatro Mundi, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall.

The soothsayers present at Deirdre's birth foretold that a bloody war would someday be waged for her sake, and so the unfortunate woman attempts to circumvent her gloomy destiny by refusing King Conchobor's offer of marriage and eloping to Scotland with her lover, Noisiu. No one can outrun the Fates, however, and though the couple enjoy a few years of happiness, eventually a web of treachery and betrayal brings the dire prophesy to pass.

A classical Irish myth with a classical Greek theme must be an easy leap for audiences of a theater company calling itself Teatro Mundi ("world theater"). But adapter-director Ivan Michael-Scott's decision to narrate the tale in the manner of classical Japanese No dramas opens up a cultural chasm even the most cosmopolitan playgoer may be unable to cross. Unlike the popular Kabuki, No remains primarily an artifact of the 14th- and 15th-century court, rigid in its conventions and formal in its execution. Its solemn speeches, ritualized movement, protracted silences, and funereal pace are literally worlds away from Western drama.

The six cast members seem to have a thorough understanding of and competence in the various prototypes of their hybrid production, delivering grave and disciplined performances. But most audience members will probably need more information about these styles than the program provides if this experiment is to be of more than scholarly interest.

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