La Luna Muda | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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La Luna Muda

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La luna muda, Lookingglass Theatre Company, at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Lookingglass shows are generally either intensely earnest and athletic or cool, languid, and arty. Their latest belongs to the latter group. Inspired by Italo Calvino's highly ornate, self-conscious short story "The Distance of the Moon," this is a gorgeous piece packed with pretty costumes and interesting props, including a curved wooden ladder that doubles as a boat and as one of several symbols for the moon.

But the show lacks a plot worthy of 75 minutes stage time. The story Calvino tells--the narrator yearns for a captain's beautiful wife, who yearns for a dreamy young deaf man--is essentially a surreal prose poem. Onstage this slight tale, for all its moody meditations on thwarted erotic longing, feels more like a glossy fashion spread or very, very highbrow rock video than a work of theater.

David Kersnar, who conceived and directs the piece, has come up with some marvelous visual equivalents to Calvino's prose, the best of which make use of the company's ever improving circus skills. In one remarkable scene Lawrence E. DiStasi and Laura Eason, poised at opposite ends of a ladder hung by cables, spin it end over end while they sing a moving duet about star-crossed love. But after a while you can have too much eye candy.

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