The Universal Wolf (A Vicious New Version of Little Red Riding Hood)/The Love Talker | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Universal Wolf (A Vicious New Version of Little Red Riding Hood)/The Love Talker

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The Universal Wolf (A Vicious New Version of Little Red Riding Hood), and The Love Talker, Box Theatre Group, at the Cornservatory. A resolute spinster tries to free her sister from a woodland deity's spell in The Love Talker. Deborah Pryor's gothic fable is attractive to young actors for its Jungian themes if daunting for the sensuality of its language. It's not easy to proclaim "He touches my eyes blind and folds his grape and cedar dark around me" without self-consciousness and with full conviction.

The all-female Box Theatre Group recognizes the difficulties of invoking Dionysian allure in a storefront space. Shadowy lighting, an electronically distorted voice, and a costume modeled after Aubrey Beardsley's androgynous giants enhance the supernatural aura of the predatory satyr, played by Robyn Coffin with a dancer's catlike fluidity. This flawed but daring interpretation gives the play's final clash of wills mystery and immediacy.

To get to this scene, however, we must endure The Universal Wolf, Joan M. Schenkar's version of the Little Red Riding Hood story. A narrator supplies farcical stage directions and deconstructionist footnotes to Little Red, here a sadistic Francophile, and a quasi-Folies Bergere Wolf (played by Coffin with a sly charm that undercuts the sophomoric silliness of Schenkar's satire).

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