Torque | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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Torque, Neo-Futurists. Ryan McKinty-Trupp's trompe l'oeil set, a handsome backdrop of a living room and kitchen that spills across the stage, functions like the show itself: it's a good but obvious fake--or appears so until an oven and cabinets flip smartly open along impossibly skewed lines. This little trick sets up a better one: later, we're as disappointed as a character who can't climb the set's painted stairs. Steve Mosqueda's absurd drama plays the same shell game, relentlessly smashing its brittle illusion of life with ironic self-references, dance numbers, audience-participation detours, and non sequiturs in the form of angrily thrown vegetables, all the while implicating the viewer in its nameless mounting dread.

A disturbingly cheerful mother and son seem lost in the strained charade of a blissed-out dinner; but when their home gets invaded by two robbers (Mosqueda and Anne Zaranek), their terrible secret comes out. It's a tried-and-true scenario with tried-and-true twists--captive as captor, captor as family, family as captor--but the hyperbanality of Mosqueda's dialogue often approaches the transparence of Ionesco or Buñuel, and Melissa Culverwell and Paul E. Grondy are amazing as the mother and son. Adjusting their performance styles to match each shift in the show's rules, they convey a dogged, hopeless optimism, clinging to the flimsy artifice of their stagecraft world as we cling to the social constructions of ours, fearing that what's concealed is nothingness.

--Brian Nemtusak

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