The Chorus Rebellion | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Chorus Rebellion

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The Chorus Rebellion, Breadline Theatre Group. The conceit is that we're watching one Aeroganteus's The God of War at a festival of Dionysus circa 500 BC. But the real story is backstage, where the usual theatrical mutiny is in progress. Two chorus members disgusted by the poor working conditions, the stars' egotism, and their own subordinate status begin to make spontaneous "improvements" to the text. Despite the playwright-director's attempts to keep order (and save his reputation), their mischief infects the show--and finally it becomes apparent that even the gods are doing some rewrites.

At times Paul Kampf's The Chorus Rebellion, in a world premiere by the Breadline Theatre Group, resembles nothing so much as a bevy of classics scholars on a postexam spree: at one point several actors are seized with an attack of "corybanting," which looks to us an awful lot like jitterbugging. But the play avoids spinning out of control--barely--thanks to Kampf's familiarity with and adherence to the motifs of Greek myths as interpreted in the great tragedies. The result is an intelligent silliness and satirical insights into theatrical practices then and now, though there's enough low comedy--Achilles dressed in a red satin ball gown, for example--to amuse those not as well versed in the play's sources.

At two hours the gag runs a bit longer than the material can sustain. But at the last minute, as playgoers don their coats, we're treated to one final laugh by the god of revelry himself.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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