A Dangerous Ornithology | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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A Dangerous Ornithology

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James Owens's treatise on the threat to personal freedoms posed by an autocratic government can be frustrating. The playwright's intent seems to be to push us headfirst into a hyperparanoid reality and force us to grapple with a narrative that needs too much unpacking to be savored. The resourceful ensemble renders a few moments indelible: an existential discussion of life's oppositions that takes place in the engine room of a locomotive becomes a profoundly strange vaudeville routine involving teacups. But the show's bracketing devices--a pair of academics, a study of the flight patterns of birds, a revenge plot--remain mysterious while the elliptical middle is no different from the train ride it features: its origin and destination are one and the same.

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