Kirkos | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Kirkos, National Pastime Theater.

Ritualistic theater rarely rises above self-important costume pageantry, with a half dozen earnest actors in layered earth tones moving like poorly trained modern dancers to vaguely African rhythms, declaiming animalistic non sequiturs and carrying big sticks. Writer and director Michael Sokoloff in Kirkos indulges all these cliches and adds a marauding band of postapocalyptic nomads draped in fishing nets who practice hero worship and sadomasochism. Joseph Campbell meets Jean Genet meets Waterworld.

Sokoloff, best known as a combat choreographer, keeps his nine actors jumping, pushing, slapping, clawing, and screaming for the better part of two hours, making it nearly impossible to see or hear anything clearly. Kirkos is apparently about a journalist who wants to film an ancient fertility dance, people who identify with horses ("The horse moves, and the man moves with it" is somberly intoned at least half a dozen times), and a guy who rubs his crotch.

A program note and sign in the lobby suggest that Sokoloff's brand of physical theater--which amounts to little more than running around and jumping from high places--requires all the skill and split-second timing of brain surgery: "The setting and the action of Kirkos present some significant challenges to the actors. Once the play begins, do not get up out of your seat, or in any way interfere with the action." It's a great strategy to prevent people from walking out before intermission.

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