I've been scratching my head as the installments of Doorika's triptych Saajury have appeared one by one over the past year, each raising theatrical befuddlement to a new height. But finally assembled into a two-hour evening, the piece has a devastating clarity. Director Erika Yeomans orchestrates mysterious, even at times frustratingly opaque scenes into a grand abstract epic of cultural and spiritual decay. As in any epic, a lot of exposition must be endured; getting through the first half hour, which introduces a variety of seemingly nonsensical and highly stylized gestural and vocal languages, is like trying to grasp all the patronymics in the opening chapters of War and Peace. But once the ground rules are established, the slow accumulation of exquisitely chosen details--a man delicately wiping the dust from a corpse's face, a woman offering her red stiletto heels to her lover in a desperate attempt to keep him--creates a demoralized world crushed by the weight of inescapable meaningless ritual. Intimate conversations between forlorn lovers suffer the injustice of cheap amplification and crass distortion; this is a world in which all permutations of genuine human connection default into sexual defilement or unwavering plastic smiles. Every nuance of Yeoman's breathtakingly bleak vision is enhanced by her stellar five-person cast, as well as by Celia Bucci's painstakingly assembled sound design, full of sublime collisions and incongruities. Doorika draws upon myriad source materials, including Nagisa Oshima's 1960 film Cruel Story of Youth, Roland Barth's Empire of Signs, and the formal conventions of Edo-era Japan, but Saajury's own eloquent, highly idiosyncratic language needs no translation. Doorika at Blue Rider Theatre, 1822 S. Halsted, 409-2617. Opens Friday, March 3, 8 PM. Through March 11: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sunday, March 5, 8 PM. $5-$10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Heather Priest.