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Theater Thu May 19 2011

Dog & Pony's Roadkill Confidential Leaves us Bleeding on the Curb

roadkillconfidential.jpg

FBI Man (Sorin Brouwers) pauses dinner between Randy (Andrew Goetten), Melanie (Heather Townsend), Trevor (Lucy Carapetyan) and William (Dan Smith) to share surveillance equipment in Dog & Pony Theatre Company's Midwest premiere production of Roadkill Confidential at The Building Stage, May 4-June 4. Photo Timmy Samuel

This is a very difficult review to write because Roadkill Confidential is such a dense and complicated play, filled with unlikable characters doing unlikable things. The catch is the lush, multimedia Dog and Pony-esque style to it, which adds an eerie, schizophrenic vibe. This style, supported by an impressively adaptable and visually compelling set featuring stacks of televisions and a pile of wooden chairs, gives this play presence and makes it, well, palatable.

Roadkill Confidential, written by Sheila Callaghan, is, as Dog & Pony puts it, a "meditation on brutality". Perhaps even a call-to-arms. It centers on a famous conceptual artist named Trevor (Lucy Carapetyan), who is under investigation by the FBI for working on a project that is, essentially, a biological weapon. As we watch Trevor's interactions and listen to her conversations, we are asked to pay attention to all the things in the world we'd rather ignore.

This is a very challenging play, in part because it forces us to confront some of the more unsavory aspects of the world, and in part because there is little plot to speak of. This play is weird. Really, really weird. Between moments of clarity and coherent conversation (which are pretty unpleasant in themselves because the characters all seem to hate each other), there are oddball musical interludes, interpretive dance numbers and violent "artistic interpretations" of Trevor running over bunnies with her car.

The best moments in the play occur when the video projections on the screen sync up with the action/dialogue onstage, creating a comprehensive, multi-sensory experience even the most chronic Attention Deficit sufferers can enjoy. They probably won't be able to follow along, but they will enjoy it.

Other enjoyable moments include a bitchy/goofy dinner party, lubricated by Pinot Noir and punctuated by a UB-40 singalong, and "freeze-frame", no-nonsense spats of commentary here and there provided by our FBI agent, Sorin Brouwers.

The rest is a fragmented mash-up of colorful pretentiousness and bad behavior, leaving us with a sour taste in our mouths.

Go to Roadkill Confidential when you're feeling like something a little out of the ordinary. It brings up valid points about complacency and civic duty, and is obviously thoroughly researched and thought-out. The stage notes quote Baudelaire and Sontag, for crying out load. Indeed, Roadkill Confidential is an intelligent play and it certainly has its place in the experimental theater world, but it's probably not going to appeal to the mass majority who are just looking for a little entertainment.

Performances of Roadkill Confidential take place Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm and Sundays at 3pm, through June 4. There is an added understudy performance Wednesday, June 1 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for students, seniors and for the understudy performance. All previews plus Thursday and Sunday performances are pay-what-you-can. For tickets, call The Building Stage box office at 312-491-1369 or visit www.dogandponychicago.org.

 
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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

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