From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A Beatbox Journey | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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From Tel Aviv to Ramallah: A Beatbox Journey

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Monologuists tend to get obsessed with incorporating the banalities of performance into their performances--think Spalding Gray, pausing to sip from his omnipresent half-empty glass. But human beatbox/raconteur Yuri Lane doesn't want you to consider his pauses; he wants to camouflage them: whenever he takes a swig of water during this hip-hop overview of Palestinian-Israeli relations, he integrates the gulping noises into the piece's rhythmic pulse. Writer-director Rachel Havrelock (Lane's wife) draws parallels between the lives of the two main characters, an Israeli club DJ and a Palestinian Internet-cafe owner, as they interact with friends and associates. Lane uses every inch of a compact stage to suggest the sights and sounds of the Middle East, and his craft as a beatboxer is marvelous; he re-creates the sound of a blaring alarm clock and a squawking news report with equal aplomb. Both he and Havrelock identify strongly as Jewish-Americans, and questions about their bias will likely continue to dog the piece. The Tel Aviv portion of the script is slightly better developed, but highly kinetic video projections by Sharif Ezzat, a Muslim of Egyptian extraction, have an equalizing effect: they not only enhance the energy of the performance but nail down the few moments when Lane's scat storytelling begs for a concrete image. Through 12/12: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western, 773-296-6024. $15.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stephanie Patterson.

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