Last of My Species Reviews

Redmoon's satirical spectacle for all ages

The spectacles devised by Chicago's Redmoon theater are renowned for the way they capture the imagination of both adults and kids, down to the tiniest member of the diaper crowd. The secret? It's that the company's creative team simply remains true to its wholly lunatic aesthetic and hypnotizes its audience with its commitment.

There is considerable sophistication in Redmoon's current work, "Last of My Species: The Fearless Songs of Laarna Cortaan" -- a gargantuan end-of-summer dreamscape staged on the grassy knoll just south of Belmont Harbor and Lake Shore Drive, and created by Jim Lasko, Vanessa Stalling, Frank Maugeri, Rebecca Hunter and a veritable army of designers, engineers, musicians and performers.

Consider the parody of promotion for the Norwegian world beat artist of the title, or the sendup of both 1980s punk-glam rock (performed by Shu Shubat) and its attitudinal opposite, a soulful chicklit-like singer-songwriter with a guitar. Or witness the whimsical use of handheld masks that morph its wearers into monkeys, post-cataclysmic ghosts, Norse warriors, and a bizarre orchestra of players and oratorio singers. Or watch a thuggish tribe with Popeye-like fists and comically oversize red boots. Or just take note of the zany hoax that underpins much of the show's narrative.

The spectacle's grand climactic pas de deux, involving a kiss that seals the deal, also is special. Talk about delayed gratification: The final meeting of lips here -- brilliantly choreographed, and executed with seemingly total fearlessness by aerialists Tony Hernandez and Rani Waterman, who dangle from a giant sliding ladder contraption -- also says more about the link between trust and love than any novel.

Throughout, I kept my eye on the brothers, ages 8 and 11, on the bleacher seat in front of me.

"What is this about?," asked one of them early on in the 75-minute show. But by the time Seth Bockley, the show's nutcase narrator, exclaimed: "I hope you're not buying this!," he not only got the joke, but was enthralled.

Hedy Weiss (SEP 7 2009) "THEATER REVIEW | It's crazy fun, sealed with a kiss". Chicago Sun Times