Jellyeye | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

It's hard to believe Shu Shubat and Ollie Seay's troupe is 15 years old. Now, according to artistic director Shubat, the action-drumming group is returning to its roots. The first time I saw her and Seay perform, back in the late 80s as part of MoMing's "Dance for $1.98" series, she played guitar, as I recall, while he and two other percussionists jumped around. Several years later the troupe moved into full-blown theatrical narratives with pieces like the "drum opera" Avalanch Ranch; at about that time Shubat and Bryn Magnus started working on Blood Lotus, which as originally conceived was supposed to have double-sided costumes, film projections, and drums lit from within by candles and shooting fire (via propane tanks). I don't think the piece ever achieved that hyperbolic state, but it was performed for years as a long percussion ensemble work in which both performers and drums careened around the stage. Last presented here in July 2001, it's being offered again--along with another Jellyeye action-drumming classic, Curve--this weekend at HotHouse, at the end of a program that's mostly music. Revisiting their origins, Shubat, Seay, and various other musicians will play as a band, and Shubat will perform a solo set, playing guitar and singing; also on the bill are Kevin O'Donnell and his National Quartet. (Shubat and Jellyeye will perform the musical part of this program on a bill with Andrew Bird, Saturday, April 5, at 7:30 PM at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-728-6000.) HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, 312-362-9707. March 8-9: Saturday, 9 PM; Sunday, 8 PM. $17.

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