The Whole World In Our Hands | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Whole World In Our Hands


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The Whole World In Our Hands, Deaf Bailiwick Artists, Bailiwick Repertory. In a culture like ours, so inundated with words and noise, it's easy to forget how much can be conveyed with a simple gesture or facial expression. Combining traditional narration, sign language, and pantomime, these seven performers present simple but powerfully resonant enactments of 11 folktales and fables from around the world. Each offers a lesson about finding one's place in the world or accepting death or the dangers of wishing destruction upon others, tapping into a wisdom that transcends time and place.

Though words supply each tale's framework, the real communication comes from the performers' faces and bodies. Sometimes a single actor portrays every character in the story, changing expressions and physical demeanor in a split second, as in Ronald Jiu's amazing dramatization of the Norwegian "Tale of the Seven Foals." Other stories involve the whole cast, working in tightly choreographed, synchronous motion--obviously the result of impeccable attention to detail on the part of directors Jiu, Robert Schleifer, and David Zak.

This production is a family-friendly option for parents--an engaging performance that's appropriate and accessible to younger viewers but never panders to them. It's also worthwhile entertainment for adults, reminding audiences of all ages how much can be said without slick media, high-speed images, or even words.

--Kim Wilson

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