Winter Pageant | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Winter Pageant



Winter Pageant, Redmoon Theater, at Redmoon Central. The company's 12th annual celebration of the season is the first performance in its new space. Unfortunately, under the direction of Frank Maugeri, Redmoon seems not to have figured out how to use this cavernous former warehouse, especially its tricky acoustics, to best advantage.

Lonesome Pete (Greg Hardigan in a sad-eyed Buster Keaton turn)--a cowboy whose horse, Clop, has gone to the Great Open Range in the Sky--journeys through a foreboding Western landscape. His passage is depicted through an awkward collection of segments, some that involve the whole ensemble and others chamber puppetry on a scale too intimate to register with the audience. What works, as usual, is the ensemble's incorporation of many community groups, including its own Dramagirls.

Redmoon has been conducting "shrine workshops" throughout the city this year, in part to replace its canceled Halloween parade: community members have commemorated dead loved ones by decorating glass jars and filling them with remembrances. Many of these shrines descend from the ceiling at the show's end, perhaps to dovetail with Pete's acceptance of his equine pal's demise. But the suggested connection between death and rebirth and the change of seasons is never cleanly articulated. There's a lot of energy in the performances and sly charm in the witty found-object design work, but the piece needs a more coherent vision that's scaled to the demands of the space.

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