Lot's Wife | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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LOT'S WIFE, Local Infinities, PAC/edge Performance Festival, at the Athenaeum Theatre. A stack of eight salt licks--a pillar of salt--stands onstage as the audience enters. The lower seven are in pristine condition while the top one has been worn down, suggesting the shape of a head. Early in the performance we see a video projection of a slowly spinning woman on the pillar, as though a human soul were trapped inside.

Unfortunately this stunning image is one of precious few evocative moments in Local Infinities' hour-long work. The group made its mark with Wax and Wayne, in which actors were coated in wax. This time salt is the substance of choice, and it's everywhere: spilling out of pockets, dumped from a suitcase, even raining from the ceiling in a delicate white sheet. But the journey the performers take through this salty landscape seems aimless. One man and two women dressed in traveling clothes and toting old suitcases cross to and fro, unstacking and restacking the salt licks every few minutes, occasionally stopping to hug one another with what seems enormous relief. But we don't know why. One woman dumps salt from her pockets, the other scoops it up and dumps it into her bodice. But such gestures feel random and empty because the performers don't create meaningful characters or genuine relationships. The salt piles up but significance doesn't.

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