The Perjured City, or the Awakenings of the Furies | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Perjured City, or the Awakenings of the Furies 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

THE PERJURED CITY, OR THE AWAKENING OF THE FURIES, StreetSigns, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. A woman screams hysterically through the stained-glass windows of the church that houses this StreetSigns production that the city is "a slaughterhouse" administered by conscience-free politicians and money-grubbing MDs. It seems that government officials, with the complicity of well-placed medical professionals, have knowingly distributed HIV-infected plasma, resulting in the deaths of 11,237 children, including the woman's son. Meeting some of these callous doctors and their unctuous attorneys, we find they're so evil they may as well have horns and cloven hooves. Eventually a band of homeless people joins the betrayed mother, bemoaning their society's lack of justice and proclaiming, "Let's change the world."

This show might succeed as a 30-minute bit of agitprop. But broad stereotypes and facile politics grow tiresome after an hour, let alone three. Helene Cixous' The Perjured City, being given its professional American premiere after a Northwestern University student production last winter, transforms the 1985 French blood-bank scandal into postmodernist Greek tragedy, complete with a narrating Aeschylus, several unleashed Furies, and an oracular goddess. Director Derek Goldman gives the affair a ritualized solemnity, but his penchant for easy dichotomies--lawyers are walking oil slicks, homeless people are saints-in-waiting--keeps the audience from ever having to wonder who's right and who's wrong. Most disappointing, the only people with AIDS worth talking about here are children, a sentiment that aligns Cixous with the conservative state she would like to indict. --Justin Hayford

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
March 19 1
Performing Arts
March 21

Popular Stories