Missing Memaw | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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MISSING MEMAW, A Walk About Theater Company, at Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ, Baird Hall. The three nonnarrative pieces making up this evening ache with gentle dissonance, paying rueful tribute to the power of loneliness to inspire art. Performed by Kentucky writer-performer Loren Crawford with elegiac grace, Missing Memaw reveals a solitary woman trying to find beauty in her memories. She fastens her late friend's polyester pants to a tree like Tibetan prayer shawls. Letting go of a string that attaches her to a globe, she chillingly wonders, "What if the only person in your world is you?" Crawford's plaintive intensity is enhanced by director Stephan Mazurek's haunting slide projections.

Crawford casts an equally wistful spell in an adaptation of The Canary, Katherine Mansfield's final short story--a warm farewell to life not meant to be published. Crawford delivers this tale of a fragile spinster remembering the sadness behind her pet bird's songs with tensile concentration. Nancy Johnson, another Kentucky artist, provides the captivating musical backdrop: her Appalachian mountain dulcimer seems to pack a thousand memories into three strings.

Paradoxical and repetitive, The Book of Maybe is taken from a cryptic work in progress by Mazurek and Brian Jeffery. The men perform their puzzle piece--a dreamlike depiction of an artistic encounter that may also be sexual--with a ritualistic rapture that promises more than it presents. --Lawrence Bommer

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