Booom | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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BOOOM, TeenStreet Theater, at Pulaski Park. "We all walk into the void," says the hebephrenic boy to the schizophrenic girl. "Some of us just do it better than others." But when your world is colored with negative circumstances that buzz like a thousand mocking bees--violence, injustice, squalor, puberty, unfaithful sweethearts, prettier sisters--is it better to contain the negativity within yourself, so that your whole body shivers with the strain? Or to externalize it in pantheistic familiars--sometimes friendly, sometimes not--until you can escape the horror forever?

TeenStreet Theater--a Free Street program--presents the ensemble-created BoOom, directed by Ron Bieganski. Exploring the thousand natural shocks that modern teenage flesh is heir to, it's a tapestry of music, dance, and poetry that re-creates the nebulous universe of a young woman determined to become "free of negativity" no matter what the sacrifice. And if the details of her journey are unclear at moments--the acoustics of TeenStreet's cavelike space often obscure even the most carefully enunciated lines--there's no denying the talent and discipline informing this production. Shanel Jackson as the withdrawn Clarisse and Leo Asuncion as Jabez--David to her Lisa--give memorable performances. Dancer Keli K. Stewart as the impish Meta and powerhouse soprano Onome Djere as Honora lead an ensemble whose portraits of ghouls, goblins, and green men are cruel and beautiful enough to populate any midsummer youth's nightmare.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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