Slides of My Trip to Hell | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Slides of My Trip to Hell


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SLIDES OF MY TRIP TO HELL, at Voltaire. Jeff Carey's tidy little one-man experiment is well suited to an amenity-free basement theater. Rather than trying to wish away Voltaire's innumerable physical and technical limitations, Carey exploits and even ridicules them. Dressed in rumpled pajamas and a quasi-monastic cap and calling himself Dante, he plunks himself behind a junky table a few feet from the audience, slide projector to his right, boom box to his left, script before him, and simply shows us slides of his journey through hell. On its face, it's theater without imagination.

But Carey is a sly performer: he adopts this pedestrian approach in order to wreak joyful havoc on Dante's Inferno, which his slide show follows circle for circle. Carey's coarse illustrations capture Dante's archetypal immediacy, while the irreverent script provides gobs of low-brow irony. When Dante meets the Minotaur, we hear the theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. When Dante reaches the river Styx, you-know-who starts singing, "Oh mama I'm in fear for my life..." At times Carey is a bit hamstrung by his own technical strictures, but it's apparent throughout the hour that he's just trying things out. And this is the place to do it.

--Justin Hayford

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