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Wednesday, April 17

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Performance Sat Oct 24 2009

The Hypocrites' Frankenstein Haunts MCA Stage

Frankenst.jpgIt's allegorically similar to Dr. Victor Frankenstein's monster itself. Creative director Sean Graney and the Hypocrites analyzed a gothic tale of assorted interpretations, dissected it, and spread it across the Museum of Contemporary Art stage to be pieced together -and there's not one nose-bleed seat in the house.

The Hypocrites' Frankenstein revision, based on Mary Shelley's 1818 novel and the 1931 film starring Boris Karloff, has a haunted house-like promenade setup resulting in the actors weaving through the audience, up and around asymmetrically placed furniture and benches. So, everyone is sitting front-row. The performance does come with aforementioned caveats however: "You will be pointed to if you are in the way," actress Jessie Fisher says beforehand, "And we're going to try so hard not to get blood on you."

The promenade stage itself is already an eerie setup, before the show even begins: while a projection of the 1931 black-and-white film being played on a shredded-and-sewn-back-together screen, pages from Mary Shelley's novel are literally ripped up and posted on the adjacent wall. Plastic dolls and their various appendages hang amid industrial light bulb fixtures as static electricity zaps, faint screams bawl and fluttering bat wings flail as an ambient sound.

More interestingly, the actual performance is uniquely interactive, almost everyone in attendance has to move around to get closer -or flee if they're too close. And the arrangement encouraged visitors to climb benches, dressers, armoires and sofas (but be careful -one man lost his footing off a dresser and hit his head hard when an actress moved towards him).

There were many elements keeping the pace of the show vigorous: a few comedic, character-revealing musical numbers--one about wanting to scientifically quantify what it means to be human and another lamenting the loneliness once it has been achieved. There are scenes of horror as screaming characters are torn limb from limb. And the pinnacle moment: a dramatic fight scene between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster that takes almost the entire stage, jumping from dresser to dresser.

The tale of Dr. Frankenstein's monster is roughly about a lonely scientist who wants to create a living man out of the remains of the dead, only to produce a grotesque creature that in turn seeks companionship and revenge. While the timeless story has been told in various interpretations, novels, films and comics, to have the audience entwined within a multimedia performance is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

The MCA, 220 E. Chicago Ave., will be presenting The Hypocrites: Frankenstein from Oct. 21 to Nov. 1. Performances will be Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm and at 7:30pm, with two special performances for Halloween on Friday, Oct. 30 at 10pm and Saturday, October 31 at 10pm. Tickets range from $20-$25 (Students, subject to availability: $10) and can be bought at the MCA Box Office at (312) 397- 4010 or at The performance is recommended by the MCA for mature audiences.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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