Enter Achilles | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The vulnerable Achilles is the perfect metaphor for the damaged macho men of Lloyd Newson's dance-theater work, performed by Britain's DV8 Physical Theatre and filmed by Clara Van Gool. Seven blokes gather in a pub, where they throw darts, watch sports on TV, and harass a guy who appears to be gay. They also play air guitar and vault over a pool table with balletic grace. Newson's choreography probably looks rough-and-tumble onstage, but set in an actual bar or alley it creates a heightened, almost kitschy sense of reality. And the occasional cinematic device--a close-up of two men pressing their lips to either side of a beer glass--nicely foregrounds the choreographic detail. The characters' misogyny and homophobia are hardly novel, yet Newson's treatment, both horrifying and funny, makes them fresh. His men seem to feel safer manipulating objects than dealing with people: one guy would rather loll in bed with his blow-up doll than talk to a real live woman on the phone. When the other men sodomize his doll, deflating it in the process, the tragedy is both absurd and genuine. 50 min. Also on the program, the U.S. premiere of Wim Vandekeybus's Belgian film In Spite of Wishing and Wanting (1999, 52 min.). Director Walter Verdin will introduce the screening. Gene Siskel Film Center, Friday, May 3, 6:15.

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