Seashore | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Seashore, TriArts Inc., at the Chopin Theatre. In puppeteer and director Andrew Park's compelling play, about a young field mouse's search for the sea despite her parents' warnings, growing up is about finding spiritual fulfillment through a successful quest. The dialogue is sometimes awkward, but there's so little of it that it doesn't matter--this hour-long fable keeps our attention with its soaring score and the rich, mysterious world evoked by Buck Blue's quirky puppets (procrastinating dwarfs, a singing snake) and Troy Fujimura and Simon Lashford's creative lighting and simple but effective set: spare painted trees and projected scenery inspired by Rene Magritte.

The a cappella score of spirituals, hymns, and folk songs is lushly sung by the 11-member ensemble, with occasional percussion by Ruta James. Most songs are performed in the American shape-note style, which favors clear, full-throated, slightly eerie harmonies. The elfin Allison Latta is wide-eyed and determined as the young mouse, and Justine BonDurant is slinky and seductive as the cat whose sudden violence almost keeps the brave mouse from her quest. Park makes the production sharp and surprising rather than sentimental, creating a dreamy, still otherworld.

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

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