Geography of a Horse Dreamer | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Geography of a Horse Dreamer


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GEOGRAPHY OF A HORSE DREAMER, Steep Theatre Company, at Profiles Theatre. Sam Shepard's 1974 play about gangsters, gamblers, and the corruption of the Wild West receives an uneven revival under the direction of Sergi Bosch.

An occasionally amusing if dated parable about the freedom due artistic genius and its co-option by capitalistic greed, the piece is rife with opportunities for scenery chewing. The plot is essentially a gritty version of D.H. Lawrence's short story "The Rocking-Horse Winner." As Cody, the young hick who can dream the winners in races--first horses, then greyhounds--John Wilson is hard to understand much of the time. Alex Gualino is completely at sea as Fingers, the foppish leader of the syndicate that kidnaps Cody in order to reap the profits from his visions: Gualino seems confused whether his character is over-the-top nelly or just British. The best work comes from Peter Moore, who conveys the stoic menace of the Doctor with minimal effort, and Brendan Melanson and Alex Gillmor as the duo charged with guarding the young visionary. But the play requires an ensemble capable of both capturing and twisting Shepard's stereotypes, and Bosch doesn't help these actors do that.

Wilson pulls double duty as the scenic designer, and in this role he delivers beautifully: the changes he makes between the first and second act subtly indicate the syndicate's rising fortunes, and his red-drenched mountain backdrop is a constant reminder of the vanishing frontier.

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