Death | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Death, Moveable Feast Theatre Company, at Zebra Crossing Theatre. There's a serial murderer on the loose, but Kleinman sleeps comfortably in his solitary bed--until one night when a group of vigilantes rousts him from his slumber to join them in a search for the killer. The reluctant Kleinman ventures into the cold, dark unknown with no idea of his part in the hunt, though increasingly the killer seems to resemble the pursuers--even Kleinman himself.

Death's only claim to originality is playwright Woody Allen's departure from stand-up satire and self-conscious autobiographical exploration to attempt a distinctly European style of social commentary. This Moveable Feast production, under the direction of Oliver Oertel, makes the most of the play's references to German expressionist drama and the rise of Nazism, costuming Kleinman's harassers in grim reaper makeup (a la The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and fully utilizing the asymmetrical playing space: there's a ten-minute full-cast chase-and-brawl that has shadowy figures popping out from hiding places all over. Eric Johnson as Kleinman allows the hysteria to build gradually as he's menaced by 16 characters (played by five actors, some of whom switch with little more than a change of hat or coat).

This material could easily be an invitation to chaos but emerges here as a remarkably clean and coherent, if derivative, parable of dangerous complacency and the responsibilities of the individual to the community--concerns not entirely foreign to our society. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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