The Voodoo Child | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Voodoo Child


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Black Forest Productions, at Cafe Voltaire.

Delmar lives in terror of being captured by unknown assailants bent on probing his brain for likewise unspecified information; his only peace comes from a self-concocted blend of drugs. Best buddy Lester purports to aid him with a concoction of apocalyptic visions, but he may also be out to exploit Delmar's paranoia. So might ex-girlfriend Iris, who has concocted her own blend of omni-ethnic sorcery.

Lester's and Iris's battles for possession of the sorry Delmar, which comprise the narrative of James Moeller's The Voodoo Child, are conducted in a welter of conspiracy-speak, oxymoronic psychobabble, pseudo-Zen koans, syllogistic games, solipsistic alibis, similes, puns, and one-liners borrowed from such diverse sources as the 500 BC writings on military strategy of Sun-tzu and the mid-1960s lyrics of Bob Dylan. The most persistent presence, however, is Sam Shepard, whose spirit continues to haunt storefront theaters throughout the city.

Though heavier on talk than on action (particularly after the obligatory .45 automatic has finally justified its existence), Moeller's script has more wit and craftsmanship than most imitation Shep does. And Thomas Kelso, Avril Falkenberg, and Jonathan Smeenge set up some nice verbal harmonies; Smeenge also contributes a kinetic counterpoint as he ricochets off the walls of the Voltaire basement, never put to better use than in this dark and claustrophobic little comedy.

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