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Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012

Perfection and Imperfection Chase Life and Death

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 As late October finds its way to November, The Quasimondo celebrates the spirit of the season with a stage adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree. A group of boys trick-or-treating run across a tree that seems to be growing jack-o'-lanterns. There they meet a mysterious stranger who guides them through the history of humanity's fascination with those things that occupy the holiday.

Directors Brian Rott and Chris MacGregor bring the story to the stage in a production that mixes dance, comedy and drama. Rott and MacGregor strike an interesting balance. We have an ensemble of adults playing children, a practice which can often lead to a very bad trip to the theater, but here the adult cast adds an interesting thematic depth to the production. We are all children in the face of death. Adults play children learning about death the way we all do when we lose someone. The staging fully embraces the beauty of this.

Just as our understanding of death can be very primitive in many ways, so too is the production in numerous places. At times, it feels very weak and crude. But in other places the production is heart-stompingly beautiful. Through it all Simon Andreas Eichinger plays with grace as the mysterious Mr. Moundshroud who guides the children through their journey.  The production reaches its most beautiful moment when the children make a deal with Moundshroud to save the life of their friend Pipken. The choreography in the reanimation sequence is almost stunning. MacGregor plays Pipken being awoken from near death by Moundshroud in very primal and fluid movements. If the whole show was this beautiful, it wouldn't work. Perfection needs imperfection as life needs death.

Through Nov. 3 at the Milwaukee Fortress, 100 A E. Pleasant St. For more information, call 414-702-0392.

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