devouring theatre, film, and food
Theatre reviews usually begin with a description of the show, a bit of context, some critique and then end with ticket-buying information. This review begins with ticket-buying information. Please visit http://neofuturists.org/events/analog/ right now and plan to spend 90 minutes in March with one of the most poetic, funny, and exceptionally moving and thoughtful pieces in Chicago, “Analog.”
Now, for my boring stuff:
Kurt Chiang, after surviving cancer in his early 20s, undertook a project to return a sense of normalcy to his life: transcribing by hand William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. “I’ll try to tell you why I did that,” he opens from behind the small, brown school deck where he remains perched for most of the show, “but I don’t know how you’ll take it. It might be like asking the cat why he tipped over the water glass, and the cat just purrs.” What follows is not so much a justification as an exploration into why he did this thing, why others let him, and why anyone does anything.
While sharing his story, Kurt confesses his quirks: he prefers cassettes over mp3, CVS composition notebooks to Kindles, the material over the immaterial. Five ensemble members – connected to Kurt outside of this process – weave in and out of his narrative with poetic threads that destabilize and destroy any sense of the expected. Sometimes they undercut the quintessential self-importance of a one-person effort; sometimes they provide a surprisingly brilliant nuance that comes from an outside perspective. In a particularly moving moment (at least to this reviewer), Tim Reid speaks about marrying Kurt and his wife, Jessica Anne, also a frighteningly talented member of the ensemble. Kurt had waited until the morning of the wedding to pen his vows, and wrote them in a bound notebook. He did this so when his vows weren’t as beautiful as his wife’s, he’d at least have something material to hand her.
To be on a fly on the wall (perhaps not the Lord of them) of the rehearsal room would likely reveal a process steeped in the Neo-Futurist pillars of honesty, presentism, and surrealism. The result is moving, unique, and quirky. Creatively staged by director Tif Harrison, “Analog” is a varied and unexpected stress dream that depresses and enlightens. And while the only physical thing you’ll leave with is a program, you’ll take home an experience immaterial that lasts longer than paper.
“Analog” plays through April 6, 2013 at the Neo-Futurariam (5153 N Ashland Ave). More info at: http://neofuturists.org/events/analog/