There may be a compelling play about the 1897 concert in the Paris Catacombs, but Les Innocents is not it | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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There may be a compelling play about the 1897 concert in the Paris Catacombs, but Les Innocents is not it

Instead you'll find yourself killing time with a Belle Epoque Orpheus.


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(Re)discover Theatre's self-serious one-act slog purports to be "inspired by a real concert that took place in the Paris Catacombs in 1897," and I've no doubt there's a compelling story to be excavated somewhere from that event. But, my God, this full-body-cringe-inducing work of theater cannot be it.

Gui, a nonbinary composer on a deadline, descends into the skull-walled labyrinth below Paris to reunite with the soul of their recently deceased lover and reclaim the musical inspiration that was buried with her. While en route, the musician encounters a 90s-era-Jim Carrey-level-manic mapmaker and an anguished, howling, zombielike gang of spirits, each with regrets and a narrative of their own. Even under the most generous definition of "immersive," Ann Kreitman's production doesn't make much of a case for why audiences need to trudge a lap around a row of paint-stamped crepe-paper walls, the jankiness of which is barely concealed by the Preston Bradley Center's extreme low lighting. Once the audience is seated, the already slow pace brakes even further as each ghost bemoans its fate and interrogates Gui about their motivations for descending to the underworld. Given how short the show is, it's remarkable how much of it is spent killing time.

One highlight, for what it's worth: a positive emphasis on queer and nonbinary casting.   v

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