Breathing Underwater | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Breathing Underwater

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Breathing Underwater, Running With Scissors, at the Storefront Theater. On the surface this latest work from the multidisciplinary collective Running With Scissors is the story of a depressed man about to throw himself into Lake Michigan. He's distracted from the Siren's gripping song by the arrival of an elderly woman who tells him, "You don't know as much as you think you do"; her stories offer him a new, clear view of life.

The enthralling Breathing Underwater, written by Maia Morgan and directed by Ann Boyd, goes much deeper than this plot summary, immersing us in thoughts of grief, loneliness, pain, companionship, love, death, and healing in a curiously soothing way. With its ethereal soundscape (made up of Cecil Averett's sound design and musical director Shana Harvey's evocative vocalizations and sound effects) and magical imagery, provided by the fluid movements of the performers and some puppetry, this piece is breathtaking.

Terry Hamilton as the man and Lindsay Porter as the elderly woman give genuine performances that connect us to their characters, and Alison Halstead's Siren is a wonderful balance of seduction, mystery, and welcoming charm. Elements of this nonlinear play, performed in only 60 minutes, could have been fleshed out, and some of Peter Ksander's lighting is too dim. But as it is, this production has a hypnotic allure.

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