RedSongs | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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REDSONGS, Theatre of Totality, at the Athenaeum Theatre. This company's first production is an uncomfortable cross between preadolescent pornography and a therapy session. Theatre of Totality founder Nicholas Koroyanis wrote and directed this dense, pseudopoetic story of a bisexual man tormented by women, Catholicism, and self-hatred.

A waffling sexual fantasy, the script is a mess of cliches and vague metaphors, and the staging is a rehash of thinly masked rudimentary acting exercises. Occasionally a smoke machine hacks out an absentminded puff. The stage floor is painted with a ritualistic spiral. The heavily made-up actors resemble silent-film stars. The show's focus is an androgynous, slender, sleepwalking man (Fred Lusch) surrounded by women wearing a variety of uncomfortable-looking outfits that take a great deal of time to change in between the play's four scenes. Stuffed into bargain-basement bridesmaids' dresses bursting with floppy taffeta, these unfortunate actresses depict mother/whore stereotypes with obvious gestures and robotic blandness. This is clearly Koroyanis's choice, because whenever one of them expresses a heartfelt emotion, she lapses into a blank-faced hypersexual pose, like an animated Barbie doll with weak batteries.

These meandering, almost vampiric, insatiable yet nonsensical tormentors seem to threaten Lusch's queer fragility with their extremes of heterosexuality. But I wouldn't testify to that in court--nothing in RedSongs is very clear or compelling. --Carol Burbank

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