Peer Gynt | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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In 1867 Henrik Ibsen fashioned a well-known Norwegian folktale into a metaphor for modern man's fixation on illusory personal freedom and self-aggrandizement, anticipating scads of 20th-century plays. The episodic, organic structure of his existential romp, thick with muted action and thunderous pauses, is key to its haunting mix of immediacy and distance--but also makes it a tough sell without Grieg's immortal 1876 score. But director Kathy Scambiaterra and her cast nail the unadorned text in a production that's equal parts imaginative stagecraft and actorly aplomb. Scambiaterra's gorgeous, glowing sequence of expressionist tableaux, a tone-poem echo of Ibsen's dreamy verse fugue, is one of this production's marvels; another the sheer polish of its large ensemble, fully engaged in Katherine O'Neill's focused, strenuously physical choreography. Credit the production team and standout performers John Mossman, Susan Burke, Mark Dillon, O'Neill, and Betsy Elizabeth Ann McKnight. Through 1/16: Thu 7:30 PM, Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 4 PM. Upcoming holiday schedule varies; call for information. Artistic Home, 1420 W. Irving Park, 773-404-1100. $15-$20.

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