T.U.T.A., otherwise known as The Utopian Theatre Asylum, is surely one of the more compelling troupes to have found a perch in Chicago, if only because director Zeljko Djukic so consistently goes for an unexpected blend of European abstraction and a very American sort of deadpan wit. There’s real sophistication to the company’s productions, but they are often hit-or-miss. Last fall’s “Rules for Good Manners in the Modern World” was a hit. Djukic’s current effort, “Birds,” a murky adaptation of the Aristophanes comedy, is a miss—but an interesting miss, at that. The plot, roughly delineated, involves a pair of men who convince the birds of the world to unite and create something of a buffer zone between terra firma and the realm of the gods, located somewhere northward. The details are incoherent, and in this particular adaptation, impenetrable; this is a deconstruction in need of some reconstructing. And yet there are elements here that will catch your fancy. The introduction of the birds, who strut down a catwalk to techno music like something out of Fashion Week. Or the sight of a bird-man casually standing over a grill, slathering ketchup and mustard on “some poultry that was plotting to overthrown our democracy.” The set is spare but spectacular, a series of curving, aluminum arches that bring to mind Dan Peterman’s recent MCA installation; Newcity art critic Michael Workman described that work as an “exposed ribcage”—a description that applies here, as well. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.