Hedwig Dances | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Let's see: religious intolerance, the horrors of war, the commodification and exploitation of sex--sound familiar? It seems the only elements separating our society from Francisco de Goya's, depicted in his 1799 satirical series "Los caprichos," are a few witches and the Inquisition. In her savage new Sleep of Reason: GoyaDances, based on 13 of Goya's 80 etchings, Hedwig artistic director Jan Bartoszek addresses these timely matters, essentially animating the scenes Goya delineated with such theatrical flair. Aiding the drama are the barely human half masks the seven dancers wear pretty much throughout: astonishingly expressive, highly individual creations tailor-made by Blair Thomas (of Redmoon Theater) for each performer's face. Tatjana Radisic's costumes take the late 18th century as their starting point--ballroom gowns are slit to the waist, and the ladies' towering wigs are red, not white. Moving from the human (court scenes) to the grotesque (witches and devilish gods of war) and back to the human (the Inquisition), Sleep of Reason can on occasion seem melodramatic. But that's very much in keeping with Goya's biting caricatures, and the piece's violent climax benefits from its excesses: it's horrifying. The company also performs Bartoszek's Blues Dances. Opens Thu 5/12, 8 PM. Through 5/14: Fri-Sat 8 PM. Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 773-935-6860 or 312-902-1500. $15-$25.

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