Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Radiant Darkness--Stories in Shadow Puppetry

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In a world filled with hyperreal digitized images, it's amazing that anyone would attempt the archaic form of shadow puppetry. But this showcase, which rides a nearly constant current of live music, brings the modern world to a screeching halt, inviting us into a quieter, more imaginative place. Curator Jennifer Friedrich, who presents two pieces from a series, sometimes highlights shadow puppetry's clunkiness: the squeaky unwinding of a scroll in her Victorian-style "kranky play" can be distracting. But among the artists in program one she's the most successful at establishing mood and emotional nuance, especially in The Wedding Night; credit singer Jamie O'Reilly and singer-guitarist Paul Amandes too. In To Keep My Love Alive Ashley Sullivan takes advantage of the form's stiffness to create funny little cartoon vignettes of the murders in the Rodgers and Hart song: singing it herself, Sullivan has her tiny heroine clobber, stab, and poison her many tiny husbands. The characters in Hiromi Sogo's The Snow Woman, which she narrates, are similarly doll-like, with similar humorous results. Lolly Extract and Amber Marsh in The Strange and Unfortunate Dream set a beautiful stage--a lonely room in a big city--but the episodic dream sequence that dominates it goes nowhere. Overall this is a slender yet charming, painstakingly constructed evening. When this program repeats this weekend it also includes The Immortals by Meredith Miller. Through 1/29: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. Program one runs 1/13-1/15, program two runs 1/20-1/29. Link's Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 773-281-0824, $10.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ashley Sullivan.

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