Gorey Stories | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Gorey Stories

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When I saw this show in its first run a year ago, I was overwhelmed by Blindfaith's fidelity to their source. It's no mean feat to bring something as distinctively pagebound as the chilly humor of Edward Gorey across onstage, but making it sing with the master's voice is truly remarkable. Now as then, immense credit is due the production team. William Crowley's inky sets and props, combined with Jill Van Brussel's high-contrast costumes, precisely conjure up the imaginary isle between old and New England where most of Gorey's vignettes seem to take place. Deanne Dalgaard's sound design--aided by Dirk A. Van Brussel's arrangements for piano, strings, and clarinet, played live--clanks, pulses, and sighs with whispering, otherworldly life. Still more impressive is the ensemble. Even given such a handsome setting, a cast could easily founder in the flatness of Gorey's dry fatalism, but this one is a gem. Incorporating song, dance, illustrative tableaux, a zillion goofy accents, and physical comedy--to name a few tactics--they fully inhabit their listlessly doomed characters, bursting forth like exhibits from The Pop-up Book of Phobias. And like their subtle accompanists, they're judicious with their emphases, overplaying nary a moment. There's not a slouch on hand, but Jennifer Santanello, Susan Wingerter, Lisa May Simpson, Brent Frost, and J. Preddie Predmore shine brightest--in a cold, pallid way. Directed by Nick Minas; adaptation by Stephen Currens; music by David Aldrich. Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 773-250-7133. Through November 1: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 4 PM. $15.

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

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