Love Horse | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Love Horse

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Love Horse, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Lunar Cabaret. Bryn Magnus's startling new play revolves around an intense, eloquent man, Tanner, who feels a tornado inside whenever he's around waitress Rita. But this is more than the usual love story: Tanner and his two buddies are in the business of collecting debts from drug-addicted doctors and dentists by shocking them with carefully planned routines. During one of them--inspired by butoh and boy-band choreography--Tanner breaks a tooth, and subsequent X rays of his jaw inspire him to seek out his "birth parents," renegade surgeons known for transforming animals into other beings.

This fierce, perplexing work is rich with striking verbal images and sharp cultural references. The aggression and oddity underlying its surreal scenes can be off-putting at first, but by the end of the second act writer-director Magnus has given even the smallest gesture meaning. This is a carefully calibrated, exhilaratingly performed piece that takes audiences to their threshold for disorientation and delivers insight into identity, passion, pain, and the power of science. Especially impressive are Colm O'Reilly, who gives Tanner a convincing equine bearing and brooding force; Steve Walker, who finds the comedy in one buddy's menace and jealousy; and Guy Massey, outstanding as a terrified orthodontist given new life.

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