Sheets | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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SHEETS, Bailiwick Repertory. David Gaard and M. Sanford Kaplan's 45-minute "performance drama" is the type of incomprehensible, artsy twaddle that gives performance art a bad name. Sheets--which details the mounting tension during a world-renowned photographer's final shoot--waffles incessantly between naturalistic confessional monologues and abrupt "dialogues" of non sequiturs. Furthermore, the script's commentary seems hopelessly facile; ironically, Gaard and Kaplan aim to denounce the commercialization and commodification of art by emulating a perfume commercial. Attempts to depict the erotic and exotic are equally abortive. It's hard to take any play seriously when one character moons the audience in the middle of another's most dramatic speech.

Director Brian Kirst does his best to make Sheets watchable. His staging of Undercover in the House of Love last year emphasized physicality, and he works a similar magic here: his cast uses Stephanie Nelson's stylized studio set as a playground, leaping over objects, grappling on a bed, and chasing each other up and down a staircase. Kevin Austin as the swishy assistant Skip dangles ominously from the theater's rafters during more than one scene. Of course, Kirst's acrobatic staging isn't really necessitated by the script. But at least he's aiming for depth and detail, which is more than can be said for Gaard and Kaplan. --Nick Green

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