Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men


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Combining the dark homoeroticism of Jean Genet, the suspensefulness of Hitchcock, and the visceral thrill of Olympic acrobatics, this mostly silent study of sexual longing is exciting cinema, astounding dance, and gripping drama. Featuring a quartet of dancer-actors performing under the name DV8 Physical Theatre, Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men follows the four as they prowl the sexual underground, seeking emotional connection as much as physical gratification but failing to resolve the gap between arousal and alienation. The tightly choreographed performers lift, caress, drag, and body-slam each other in a powerful, risky, increasingly violent series of encounters, until the work's grim subtext emerges in a devastating episode of carnal carnage. Based on the story of Dennis Nielsen, a British mass murderer who preyed on London street kids, this hour-long 1990 video will inescapably suggest the Jeffrey Dahmer case to local audiences; but it eschews any graphic horror, relying instead on the sheer intensity of its performers' emotions--expressed in subtle, sometimes infinitesimal shifts in gesture and eye contact as well as in bold, bravura movement. Originally shot for British TV's South Bank Show, this isn't merely a documentation of a live show; it transforms the original stage production on which it's based into authentic cinema, as David Hinton's direction makes brilliant use of shadow and focus as well as the athletic sexuality of the four performers. The video headlines a program of shorts that also includes Bruce Weber's Backyard Movie, Charles R. Christensen's Could I? Steve Reinke's Why I Stopped Going to Foreign Films, a and They Are Lost to Vision Altogether and Finally Destroy Us, two videos by Tom Kalin, director of the newly released feature Swoon. (Saturday, November 14, 9:00)

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