Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Strange Fish



David Hinton's Strange Fish is a video performance by the DV8 Physical Theater of London, whose members enact mostly wordless dramas. A single pose can suggest a whole story; bodies butt against one another with startling directness. At their best--I was once able to see them live--they are extraordinary; stripped of the usual narrative explanations, their presentation has a raw force. While DV8 take advantage of the video format to add scene changes and various effects--at one point dozens of pebbles rain down from above--the physicality that is their work's greatest strength is heavily obscured on screen. A series of marginally connected vignettes, the video includes a holiday cocktail party scene in which silent actors in typical party poses are interrupted by a manically yammering intruder and another in which a man's arms and legs burst out from the floorboards of a sparsely furnished room. A still from Strange Fish will look like either a moment from a cheap melodrama or a fragment from an avant-garde performance piece; the video's mix of comic-book kitsch, pseudosurrealism, and postmodern dance doesn't completely gel, but it's still oddly powerful. To be shown with DV8's earlier video, Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men. Chicago Filmmakers, Friday, November 18, 9:00.

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