Infinitesimals | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Hooded figures in hats and oversize coats enact mysterious ceremonies in The Sublime Beauty of Hands, part of "Infinitesimals," a monthlong series at Link's Hall curated by Meghan Strell. Though Michael Montenegro is known for his mask making and puppetry, here his ingenuity is expressed mainly in whimsical handmade prosthetic devices and a carefully wrought moving model of the bones in a hand that reveals what an intricate gift it is. He thinks of the piece's five heavily cloaked performers as puppeteers brought into the foreground, "suggestive, shadowy figures" finally given a voice. Not that they say much--this methodically performed half-hour piece in several scenes is a mostly wordless dream. (Two short texts are read.) It begins and ends with a funeral, though only the second time around is it clear what's being mourned: hands that have flown away, dropped off, or otherwise disappeared. What they might stand for is another question, but the beauty of an open-ended piece like this is the room it leaves for our imaginations. Jude Mathews's original score, performed live on keyboard and violin, evolved with the scenes and is intimately, organically related to them. The other works being offered this weekend are Larry Underwood's Corpus Delicti: Just Desserts, in which Dr. Nichaleous Tulp illustrates a lecture about identity with a fresh corpse, and Local Infinities' Yggdrasil, which personifies the Norse tree of life. The Sublime Beauty of Hands will also be performed next month at Link's on the third weekend of the Winterroot Puppet Festival. Fri-Sun 1/21-1/23, 7:30 PM, Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824, $10.

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