Liberty | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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"I really don't know if this is a good idea," Mathew Wilson confessed to me a few weeks ago: he and Eduardo Martinez-Almaral were gearing up for their second seven-day, 24-hour-a-day performance collaboration at the Blue Rider. Last year, armed only with two hours of prepared material and a few simple props (including an electric organ neither performer could play), the pair voluntarily incarcerated themselves for their weeklong Tragedy. The result was an impromptu masterpiece, a tragicomic portrait of a spiritually atrophied America: Wilson and Martinez showed a genius for creating essential experiences seemingly out of nothing and for maintaining focus for hours at a time, all the while acknowledging the absurdity of their minimalist experiment. "So what do we do now?" Wilson wonders. Tragedy began as a series of vignettes in which two travelers stranded on a train platform called out names of cities in hopes of discovering an interesting-sounding destination. As the scene evolved over about a day and a half, the piece slowly found its own trajectory. This year Wilson plans to start with a Beckettian portrait of a man who waits and waits for an official to recognize him. Once summoned to the official's desk, "nothing happens." Musical accompaniment will be provided by an electric typewriter that doesn't work. "It just makes percussive noises and then fades away with a little squeak," Wilson explains. "I quite like that." Blue Rider Theatre, 1822 S. Halsted, 733-4668. Begins midnight Sunday, September 10. $10 (good for the entire week).

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jeff Callen.

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