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The Story of the Panda Bears Told by a Saxophonist Who Has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt


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There's no escaping the pretension of this piece by Romanian emigre Matei Visniec, which charts the enigmatic nine-night courtship of Him and Her and plays like a PC, PG-rated 9 1/2 Weeks. Things like its interminable actors' warm-up exercise disguised as a scene ("Now say 'a' like you're a tomato!") are beyond redemption, and the play in general is so archly French I kept imagining subtitles. But an edgier translation than Marella Oppenheim's bland colloquial one would've done some good, as would something more like supercool New Wave distraction from the actors. All director Bryan White coaxes from them are some vague naturalism and competent but stagy movement, which fail to energize the dull surrealism of the whole. --Brian Nemtusak a Through 2/4: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, Sun 1/21-1/28, 3 and 8 PM, Steep Theatre, 3902 N. Sheridan, 312-409-2010, $10-$15.


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