Larry Underwood might have some explaining to do if he’s caught at a traffic stop on the way to UIC’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Not that there’s anything wrong with him. The Institute provides the locale for Local Infinities Visual Theatre’s striking new site-specific piece, “Corpus Delicti,” for which Underwood regularly transports a gelatinous cadaver. Its veins made from Swiss chard and dill, its heart a pomegranate, the cadaver provides the central focus for this meditation on human dissection. But Underwood, Meghan Strell, and songster Kennedy Greenrod have more in store for the audience than human-shaped Jell-O. If anything, the production is a little overstuffed: the sharpest bits, like the vivisection of Rembrandt’s “Anatomy Lesson,” during which Underwood isolates details from a projection using his broad-brimmed white hat, get buried somewhat under the wealth of historical detail the performers have accumulated. Like many contemporary performers, Local Infinities makes a bit of a fetish out of research and source material. The piece as a whole, though, is utterly original and strange, making full use of the various levels of the operating theater in which it takes place. Production and lighting designers Sage Reed and Marc Chevalier adapt the space beautifully to the piece’s demands. From the opening strains of Greenrod’s accordion in the darkened theater to Underwood’s final disappearance against a galactic backdrop, “Corpus Delicti” offers food for thought and a perfect ambience for Halloween. (John Beer)
University of Illinois Medical Center, Department of Neurosurgery, 912 South Wood, 312-528-0077. Fri-Sun 8pm. $8-$15. Through November 6.