Milly's Orchid Show | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Milly's Orchid Show


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Once so daring it left audiences in the teens and twenties baffled and/or screaming with rage, Dada performance has long since leaked into the mainstream by way of TV commercials, Fluxus-influenced rock performers, and absurdist comedians like Andy Kaufman and the early Steve Martin. Still, Blue Man Group are unsettling: with their shaved heads and glossy painted bodies, the robotic Blue Man men fuse the cool, alienated spirit of late Dada-Bauhaus performance--they look like a Mies van der Rohe wet dream--with Alfred Jarry's proto-Dada shit-throwing hysterics. Especially since the blankly staring mannequinlike performers consistently challenge our notions of what is and is not art, what is and is not entertainment. One routine--a sort of circus act in which three performers catch marshmallows or paint balls in their mouths--turns into a critique of the artistic process when one performer spits out colors onto a canvas in a parody of abstract expressionism while another gently regurgitates a delicate phallic sculpture in the shape of his esophagus. As a preview to their extended run at Briar Street Theatre this fall, Blue Man Group will perform in the tenth-anniversary Milly's Orchid Show--Brigid Murphy's eclectic cabaret--along with monologuist Cheryl Trykv, rock group Poi Dog Pondering, and filmmaker and cartoonist Heather McAdams. Park West, 322 W. Armitage, 773-929-5959. Saturday, July 19, 8 PM (doors open 7 PM). $25. --Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Blue Man Group photo by Blanche Mackey, Martha Swope Studios.

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