Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

A Chicken and Its Breast

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A Chicken and Its Breast, at Stray Dog Studios. With performance art, half the trick can be convincing the audience it's not performance art, or at least convincing them they don't know what's going on. One way of doing that is to present your show as an obliquely theatrical look at the artist behind the performance, the way writer-star Caila Lipovsky--of local "chamber punk" band Apartment--has done with A Chicken and Its Breast, a surreal little treat riddled with trapdoor giggles.

Lipovsky's alter ego, Holly, eats, sleeps, exercises, pets the cat, longs for love, complains about her mother, and throws tantrums, all the while chattering away to her "friends" in the audience. The topic of her monologue? Naturally, her none-too-insightful thoughts on eating, sleeping, exercising, and her cat, love life, mother, and mood swings--the typically cavernous navel of a reflexively exhibitionist performance artist. Between rants Holly undergoes about a dozen costume changes, glimpsed in titillating silhouette through a backlit shoji screen.

But what at first seems an affectionate send-up of art or artist slowly drifts into stranger waters. Supporting players emerge from the house to participate in a physical-humor interview scene (featuring Lipovsky's full-body grimace), an insane tongue-lashing from a mystery crone (the excellent Leslie Frank), and a "sex scene" of furiously precise movement. Before long it's unclear just how fictional Holly is, or what kind of performance you're watching--and then you realize the tidal-wave conclusion is already trembling overhead. Music by Chris Heinisch.

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