Sarabande (Maybe That's Why Coach Got My Liver)
This is to help you get through / This is a first-class operation / This is a sermon instead of a cure / This is comfort in the shape of diamonds." These words, sung by a six-member ensemble dressed in uniforms suggesting the Heaven's Gate cult, inaugurate Steve Clark's silly, mysterious performance piece Sarabande (Maybe That's Why Coach Got My Liver). This campy, contemplative work incorporates bad 70s pop music, worse choreography, a cheesy sci-fi adventure video, singing Unicorn Girls wearing electric blue wigs and translucent horns, and a paranoid scheme to cleanse the human race through mass liver removal--yet somehow communicates a sense of deep spiritual longing. Reminiscent of Meredith Monk's wry theatrical meditations, Sarabande delves deeper and deeper into its own impenetrable symbology even as it encourages the audience to simply delight in its poker-faced excess. Behind all the vapid foolishness, Clark is exploring images of homelessness and ritual purification, proceeding with such gentle ingenuity that even a tone-deaf singer in bathing gear clinging to an inflatable life preserver handed to him by a guy in a bunny costume conveys a profound sense of anomie. The piece dawdles on about 20 minutes too long, but this ever-surprising adventure provides aesthetic comfort indeed. Athenaeum Theatre, second-floor studio theater, 2936 N. Southport, 312-902-1500. Through August 29: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $10. --Justin Hayford
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): theater still by Steve Clark.