Anotherkorearevisited | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Anotherkorearevisited

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Anotherkorearevisited, Black Forest Theater Company, at Peter Jones Gallery. It's not a good sign when a company draws only a handful of people on opening night. If most of the performers' friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, dog walkers, and cleaning ladies don't come, how good can a show be?

Only six people showed up for this opening--and only three bothered to arrive before the show began. Black Forest isn't likely to gain many converts either given James Moeller's largely dispassionate rumination on the Korean war. Although David Jansheski provides a handsome, evocative set--purple star-spattered pillars arranged before an iridescent green scrim--the impressionistic script rarely ventures beyond the predictable. Soldiers lament the deprivations of winter battlefields, despair at the pointlessness of war, and numb their consciences in debauched R & R. Women remember passionate moments with lovers now half a world away or stare into the middle distance to muse upon the loneliness of "floating in an amniotic sac, an amniotic satellite." The actors not performing in a given scene spend most of their time upstage gesturing vaguely in slow motion.

While director Carla Hayden takes an admirably understated approach--there are precious few moments of frontline melodrama--this sort of stylized, semi-somnambulant staging has become a cliche of bad performance art. As a result Moeller's images rarely stick, and we end up no closer to a vision of 1950s Korea than we get during an average episode of M.A.S.H.

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