There's something fanciful, even surreal, about the two pieces on this shared program. Lucky Plush, headed by Julia Rhoads, presents Surrelium, a work in six sections inspired by Rhoads's observation of her three-year-old nephew with a helium balloon. Floating balloon sculptures and a giant inflatable "house" (designed by Joseph Ravens) are only some of the features of this 35-minute piece, which also includes a clown riding a tiny, squeaky tricycle and a skirt (designed by Cat Chow) that unzips and unwinds at once to expose the performer. Though Rhoads created the final section herself (presented as When Everything Else Stops on Mordine & Company Dance Theatre's program last weekend), Krenly Guzman helped choreograph the other sections; Kevin O'Donnell created the wistful, evocative, sometimes driving score for the two final scenes (music I miscredited to Dave Pavkovic in the Mordine Critic's Choice). Based on the principles of tension and release, Surrelium evokes envy and camaraderie, entrapment and refuge. The Seldoms' Making Strangers is another collaboration, here between the three performers: dancers Carrie Hanson and Susan Hoffman and performance artist Doug Stapleton. Stapleton adapted the text in the piece from Roland Barthes' 1977 meditation A Lover's Discourse, making Barthes' learned musings sound more conversational. A bit recited before the eighth and final section makes the reason for the work's style clear. Playing the part of the lover, Stapleton intones, "I am my own theater"--and Making Strangers is pointedly theatrical, often vaudevillian (especially as Lara Miller has imagined the numerous costumes). Consummate clowns, Hanson and Hoffman (who choreographed) provide comic distance from Barthes' whimsically phrased but utterly serious work. These characters are us, figures of fun floundering and flopping and stumbling through their romantic lives, creating "high drama" out of thin air. Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble, 312-328-0303. Through April 13: Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 7 PM. $10-$15.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Alyce Henson.