Volume XII | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Volume XII 

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For lucky Chicagoans who can afford to see Blue Man Group--and for those who can't--it's time to support the vital experiments of our local avant-garde. This week Dexter Bullard's physical-theater company Plasticene slams down its newest piece, Volume XII. Involving three dancer-actors and a complete set of the blue-bound Encyclopaedia Brittanica, this is an irreverent, visceral twist on a lover's triangle, inventively orchestrated in short scenes with stacked, tossed, and toppling books of knowledge, which become weapons, dance partners, and life stories. The haunted characters hurl themselves from stillness to violent confrontation accompanied by Eric Leonardson's ritualistic music, electrically synthesized industrial vibrations miraculously created with ordinary household objects: rubber bands, springs, a comb, and the carefully shaped remains of a barbecue grill nailed onto a two-by-four. As Leonardson strums, plucks, and slides sounds out of nowhere, the dancers fall up the stairs, hang like lemurs, and appear out of the darkness with a flaming encyclopedia, a book of love that can't be read but burns with hope and betrayal. Athenaeum Theatre, first-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago, 773-227-6487. Through December 21: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $10. --Carol Burbank

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still.

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