Thursday, September 11, 2008

No Darkness Round My Stone

One of the big draws of Trap Door for me is their ability to regularly pull shit that no one else seems to have even heard of out of thin air. I may not always end up, and somewhat frequently don't, feel the same way about the final product, but their season announcements are often among the more exciting ones in the city. And when they do hit on something, the result is not only the pleasure of a good show, but also the thrill of discovery.

They've unearthed two such thrilling discoveries in No Darkness Round My Stone: playwright Fabrice Melquiot and director Max Truax. Mequiot falls under that biggest heading that Trap Door has the corner on: contemporary European edginess. This young French surrealist is making sense of life and death and sex by refusing to handle them separately. The fractured and obtusely resplinted narrative tracks a family as they relive their carnal tragedy beyond the grave while a living soul looks on with growing and frightening envy. The most unsettling aspect of the play is that Melquiot has hoisted a world in which every character can reach two of those three, but only burns with necessity for the third. In this tomb, the living and the dead can be one in the same but do so with a torturous desire for passion. Or the living can have a love which is of no use as long as death stands in its way. And while the dead may repeat their passions, they cannot carry this desire to the endpoints they never reached before having been torn apart by both life and its conclusion. With Melquiot, however, the longing for cannot overcome the tragedy of the not having, and so the cycle is endless: the dead continuously recycling their sorrows which have no hope of changing while the living can only look on green-eyed to the inevitability that they cannot hope to find in their own existence.

This is all acheived through the guidance of the other discovery. Max Truax, a recent refugee from the West Coast, is, mark my words, about to be a name on everybody's Windy City lips. As far as I am aware, this is his second major production in Chicago, after Oracle's Termen Vox Machina, which, if not always entirely successful, was deliriously high effect via low budget. It seems to be Truax's m.o. -- take a little and make it feel that much more inclusive. From the overlap in cast & crew between Termen and No Darkness, I'm guessing he either came to town with posse in tow or is very rapidly going about forming one to call his own. Either way, he's picked good people: Sam Lewis and Jesse McCabe's sound combo of twisted standards and atmospheric murmurs firmly places the world into a flashback without a history and Ewelina Dobiesz's set gives Trap Door and even more pronounced tomb-like claustrophobia -- a feat I didn't think possible. And then there's Truax, who makes people disappear with the simple action of falling down; who brings our sympathies with the tragedy of and after death to a peak and then immediately tops it by underscoring the pathetic existence of those still living; who uses actors to block lights in the name of shadow but also in the name of darkness; who has a whirlwind rising from the empty well that is mortality right now at Trap Door.


I've already failed you on this week's updates. Dracula is going into tech, which means theatregoing will be cutting down: the only show this week was Per Diem's inaugural production, This American Wife, which I attended last night. Also, if you notice, with the closing of Lookingglass Alice, the Best of the Best section to your right is now empty. The calendar is extremely full, but Drac has Sunday evening shows, so I'm still hitting at least a Sunday matinee every week, more if I can find Wednesday shows or Saturday matinees. If there's anything I absolutely must see, I'm always partially open to suggestion.

Being watching for more detailed Dracula information to join my This American Wife entry, but in the meantime, buy you some tickets!


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