Intercourse | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The tone of this whimsical Polish show is about as far from its gruesomely clinical title as it can get. Kuba Pierzchalski and Rachel Karafistan of Cosmino Teatr enact the dynamics of male-female relationships in a wordless 45-minute performance piece that begins with the woman alone in a double bed and ends with the man alone. In between a wife tries to poison, stab, and shoot her husband, though he ends up getting sucked into the TV; a nearly naked Cupid in a red fake-fur loincloth runs shouting through the audience to reach the stage, where he threatens to shoot us with his red-tipped arrows; and the man and woman fight over a chair in a highly choreographed sequence set to tango music. (The sound design includes everything from Dean Martin tunes to techno buzzing and heartbeats.) The piece is crazy enough to almost justify the raucous New Year's Eve crowd's reaction to Pierzchalski's nudity late in the show--catcalls and laughter. But its intent is also sometimes clearly serious: reflecting Jung's idea of the persona, each performer in the early stages of a budding relationship carries a mask, then dances with the other person's mask. It's hard to say for sure, but I think the nude scene--in which Pierzchalski dons women's clothing, suggesting the Jungian idea of the anima--is meant to set up the work's serious, rather sad ending. Under these circumstances it didn't quite work, and maybe it wouldn't under any circumstances. Ultimately the episodic, dreamlike Intercourse failed to coalesce, but Pierzchalski and Karafistan are wonderfully engaging performers worth seeing for their rubbery faces alone. Through 1/9: Sat 8 PM, Sun 5 PM, Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division, 773-278-1500, $15-$22.

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