Animals | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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It's Western man's misfortune to regard being an animal as a problem--to wish to shed his appetites and instincts so as to be no longer a monster in the great Chain of Being, half animal and half angel. Dancer and performance artist Ann Carlson dares to affirm the animal. She's not afraid to take the stage with a goat or dog or child, those traditional upstagers. Instead she does a kind of dance with each: the goats follow her with curious, delicate steps in slow motion; the dog throws itself to the floor with her in absolute sympathy; the child takes its bows with a manifest glee, while the adults hang back and then bow in their pale, shadowy way. Most remarkable is the mutual tenderness between Carlson and the animals, and the way she reveals the origins of our wish to soar as animal. At the same time she resists sentimentality: a woman barks at her pet, a man barks at his wife. More troubling is Carlson's use of a child with Down's syndrome: watching this evening-length work in excerpts, I couldn't decide whether it was exploitative or not. Certainly it was thought provoking. Animals, presented by Performing Arts Chicago, runs Thursdays through Saturdays, June 17 through 26, at 8 at Remains Theatre, 1800 N. Clybourn. The show on Friday, June 18, is "Access and Understanding Night"; the show on Saturday, June 19, is "Animal Lovers Night." $10-$20. Call 242-6237 for tickets and information.

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