This musical adaptation of the Sanskrit epic “Ramayana” emerged from the collaboration of Lookingglass Theatre, Chicago Children’s Choir, Natya Dance Theatre and the world-music figure Jai Uttal. The finished production, often featuring forty or more visible performers at once, inspires admiration for the invisible feats of administrative heroism that must have made it all possible. But in the end, this ponderous “Rama Krishna Superstar” sinks under the weight of its noble multicultural intentions and lugubrious ready-for-Starbucks score. The core of “Ramayana” is a gripping story of love and war against demons. “Sita Ram” somehow succeeds in extinguishing the last spark of interest from the story, as though George Lucas were brought in as a dialogue and story consultant. Just one example: the final confrontation between the hero, and divine avatar, Rama and the demon Ravana, the battle to which the entire play has been leading, collapses in seconds as Rama fires a single bolt from his clumsy-looking bow, our intrepid child narrator guides the arrow into Ravana’s chest, and the dying Ravana disavows evil. And it’s not as though the original dictated such a lackluster resolution; in the “Ramayana,” Rama engages in hand-to-hand combat with the demon, struggling with the old mythical question, how do you kill a demon whose heads grow back? Now that would be something to see. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.