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La Compagnie Philippe Genty

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Philippe Genty's shows, which so deftly combine puppetry and dance, have always been filled with dreamlike imagery--billowing sheets, waltzing performers who suddenly shrink down to nothing, tiny armies of office workers in identical suits and bowlers. But Genty's latest work, Voyageur immobile ("Motionless Voyager"), is not merely dreamlike--it is a dream, plucked from Genty's head and thrown onto the stage in all its irrational mystery and power. Re-creating his fantasy of wandering through the world stumbling on one sight after another, Genty creates one astonishing spectacle after another: a man's head is served up for dinner, four fetuses cavort in cardboard-box wombs, a man in a tutu gives birth to dozens of children at once. Yet, as in a dream, order underlies the apparent chaos. Packed tight with surreal images of creation, eating, and death, the piece can be read as a meditation on the human condition: we're voyagers through time even as we're still, stuck in our bodies. Or it can be read as a commentary on the nature of theater: aren't audiences motionless voyagers? Or, if you connect the idea of a motionless voyager with Aristotle's notion of the unmoved mover, the piece can be read as a God's-eye view of the world. But we could go on this way for hours: like a dream, this transcendentally beautiful work is packed with meaning, and it's up to each individual dreamer to discover what applies to him or her. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 722-5463 or 663-1628. Opens Thursday, April 18, 7:30 PM. Through April 20: Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 3 and 8 PM. $26-$36. --Jack Helbig

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

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