Rockabye | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Seventeen years ago JoAnne Akalaitis provoked the ire of the normally reticent Samuel Beckett--and his not-so-reticent attorneys--when she set her production of Endgame in a New York subway station. In recent years Joanna Settle, who's worked with Akalaitis and clearly learned a few tricks from her, has done her old mentor one better. Instead of merely creating unusual settings for Beckett's plays onstage, she seeks out nontheatrical environments for them. At the 1999 Around the Coyote festival, she staged Beckett's Play, revolving around a menage a trois in purgatory, in the window of a futon store. This year she's setting his beautiful but bleak one-act Rockaby in the bay window of a Wicker Park apartment. What make Settle's productions truly remarkable, however, are not the gimmicks but the performances. Play was wonderful because Settle's three actors conveyed the pathos and gallows humor of a difficult work, and this production, presented by Division 13, succeeds on the basis of Katie Taber's exquisite voice: Rockaby is essentially a monologue prerecorded and played back as the sole character sits in her apartment brooding over her past. Reading Beckett's dry, laconic prose, Taber releases all the play's freighted subtext--just the way she pronounces "another" speaks volumes about her character's repressed rage, disappointment, and sexual frustration. Thursday, September 6, and Sunday, September 9, 8 and 10 PM; Friday and Saturday, September 7 and 8, 8 and 10 PM and midnight. Viewers should gather 15 minutes before the performance at the northeast corner of Leavitt and Pierce. Admission is free, but donations will be requested after each show. Admission to the festival's main exhibition sites is $5 per day; for more information call 773-342-6777.

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