Night Visions | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Night Visions

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NIGHT VISIONS, Flush Puppy Productions, at Heaven Gallery, through April 21. The landscape of dreams is the thin unifying thread for this second festival from Flush Puppy Productions (their first, "Gonads," was on the theme of sex). Four playlets and one song examine subconscious states and daydreams. The turgid, repetitive films in Matthew Osmon's Nocturnal Emissions, a languid multimedia piece on the demons haunting a man's sleep, kill its slight punch line. The dream of escape informs Linh Thanh Pham's Interstate (performed by Heather Graff, with filmed performances by Graff and Wesley MacMillan), and Salena Hanrahan's In the Interim riffs on a common nightmare: a young woman (Julie Lutgen) tries to find her way home from an abandoned bus stop with the putative help of a stranger (David Lee Smith). Director Joanie Schultz gives the piece some echoes of Beckett, but Hanrahan's oblique, sometimes charming dialogue is too often ponderous.

The evening isn't a complete waste. Dan Telfer's funny, poignant New Antarctica explores daydreams as self-imposed exile: a slacker loser (Cory Conrad) chooses a life with a hard-bitten fantasy babe (Heather Rafferty) over the objections of his gregarious alter ego (MacMillan). Schultz's clever physical staging and Telfer's sharp, whimsical script make a compelling case that it's never the dreams of our slumbers that screw us up but those of our waking hours, because they keep us from real but scary possibilities.

--Kerry Reid

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