Bob | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The line between homage and satire can be thinner than Occam's razor, as Anne Bogart's tribute to the notoriously eccentric avant-garde director Robert Wilson illustrates. Using elements from Wilson's better-known pieces (Einstein on the Beach, Civil Wars) and provocative quotations from his public pronouncements, she's fashioned a one-man show that can be read as a tribute--or a send-up. Will Bond, who plays Wilson, plumbs the man's depths at one moment, revealing the passion beneath the postmodernist's cool exterior. The next, he's gingerly mocking the man, hinting that there may be less than meets the eye in Wilson's zenlike pronouncements: "The mystery is on the surface." Not that Wilson would disapprove of this gentle deconstruction: irony is an important element in the pomo aesthetic. And there are moments of self-mockery even in Wilson's epic works: in The Knee Plays, the performers laboriously construct a boat that looks for all the world like a giant version of the little paper-hat boats we made out of newspaper as kids. What makes Bob extraordinary, though, is that it doesn't really matter how we read the piece. Taken straight, it still contains moments of marvelous comedy: Wilson is a witty man. Taken as satire, the piece still conveys at least a taste of his sublime work. Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-722-5463. Opens Wednesday, April 28, 8 PM. Through May 1: Thursday-Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM. $20.

--Jack Helbig

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