Dresden Dolls | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The key to this Boston duo's cult success is how they let every fan feel like part of the show. At every stop on tour the Dolls welcome local performers--artists, actors, carnival weirdos, burlesque dancers--the way the Grateful Dead welcomed tapers. Last year's live DVD, Paradise, will give you some idea what a grand self-sustaining spectacle this has evolved into: fans network online to organize their own performances ahead of time, and they rise to the challenge of the band's arch theatricality with plenty of their own face paint and drama, incorporating nods to the last eight or nine decades' worth of sexual subversion and bohemian fashion. That's not to say the Dolls' records are superfluous--on the forthcoming Yes, Virginia... (Roadrunner) keyboardist and front woman Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione, who call their music "Brechtian punk cabaret," shoulder that heavy label gracefully, dialing back Brecht's baroque surrealism a bit to make room for some wry and very contemporary laments about sex and booze and gender politics. It's all pretty angsty, but the band knows it, which is I guess the difference between high comedy and just embarrassing yourself. Technically the Reverend Glasseye, formerly of Slim Cessna's Auto Club, opens the show, but the action onstage will also include a short theater piece and three burlesque acts from the Girlie-Q Variety Hour, and elsewhere in and around the Metro there'll be plenty of human scenery: living statues, belly dancers, stilters, a nurse-and-doctor team trying to persuade people to drink strange things out of test tubes, a woman baptizing strangers into a religion she's invented, a walking kissing booth, an "old lady" in a Christmas tableau who's knitting the innards of a corpse, and on and on. Fri 4/7, 11:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $16, 18+.

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