The Wound and the Bow | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Wound and the Bow 

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THE WOUND AND THE BOW, Northlight Theatre. Given his farewell production at Northlight, artistic director Russell Vandenbroucke shouldn't have much trouble finding people to help him pack. The Wound and the Bow-- Amlin Gray's bone-dry regurgitation of Sophocles' Philoctetes--is the kind of pretentious, humorless costume parade that gives college experimentalism a bad name. Ten years into the Trojan War, an oracle reveals that the Greeks need the bow of Heracles to conquer their enemies. Trouble is, Philoctetes has it, and Odysseus abandoned him on a desert island a decade earlier, on his way to Troy. As the play opens, Odysseus and Achilles' son Neoptolemus show up at Philoctetes' cave and try to dupe him out of the bow.

Becoming involved in the ensuing story entails, first, getting past Michael Philippi's Land of the Lost set, then stomaching Nan Zabriskie's fishnet-and-hot-pants military uniforms, then keeping yourself from laughing at Philoctetes' bad hippie wig and beard. Vandenbroucke has discouraged any human connection between the characters, urging his actors instead to inflate their chests, pull somber faces, slouch through occasional stylized movement, and proclaim every line as though it were written in italics. Judging from the cast's halfhearted commitment, they're counting the days until this overstuffed turkey closes.

--Justin Hayford


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