Chicago Theater Review: CORE OF THE PUDEL (Trap Door Theatre)

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by Tony Frankel on April 26, 2013

in Theater-Chicago

FAUST IN SPACE

Just because I recommend Trap Door’s latest production doesn’t mean that I understand it. Core of the PUDEL (pronounced “poodle”) is an Avant Garde/Experimental/Movement Theater production conceived and directed by Thom Pasculli, who draws from Goethe’s Faust to present a one-hour rendering that is practically impossible to follow for those unfamiliar with the play and its many incarnations. In fact, even those who read a Cliffs Notes summary prior to attending will be addlepated by the bizarre goings on. A scrolling placard reveals the scenes which mirror those of Faust: “The Study,” “The Tavern,” “Gertrude’s Bedroom,” etc., but it seems to me that this group of mega-talented thespians are more concerned with playing and improvising on the themes of Faust than they are in telling a story (and if there is some linear construction beneath the surrealism, we wouldn’t know – actors speak in a combination of German, French, Italian, and Tagalog more than English).

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of Core of the PUDEL at Trap Door Theatre

Still, I was quite entertained, and at times enchanted, by the imaginative theatricality of it all. Whether singing gorgeous chamber songs, or climbing all over each other looking like morning exercises at bedlam, or nailing pears to books, or dancing around to music that sounds like Beer Garden oompah-pahs from a Leni Riefenstahl propaganda film, Pasculli’s ensemble and co-creators – who are all linguists, singers, acrobats, actors, dancers, and instrumentalists – are in the process of discovery and you are invited to watch.

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of Core of the PUDEL at Trap Door Theatre

The work is subtitled Gutting the Legend of Faust, which tells me that this entertainment is a process. I can’t tell you if Trap Door has arrived at anything yet, but they are having a helluva lot of fun cutting up Goethe’s text as they examine the “core of the poodle,” a German expression (Des Pudels Kern) which translates as “heart of the matter” (in Faust, the devil appears as a black poodle). Aided by Michael Christman’s resourceful lighting and Danny Rockett and Cooper Forsman’s wholly original sound design, this is the kind of theater which magically makes you think afterward about what it meant. The amazing players are Nigel Brown, Al Evangelista, Cooper Forsman, Cortney McKenna, Kendra Miller, Paul Scudder, Lauren Vogel and Katie Dingle.

Tony Frankel’s Stage and Cinema Chicago review of Core of the PUDEL at Trap Door Theatrephotos by Michal Janicki

Core of the PUDEL
Trap Door Theatre
scheduled to end on June 2, 2013
for tickets, call 773.384.0494
or visit Trap Door

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago

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