Sublime revelation and captivating entertainment in a visually stunning and thought-provoking work—James Thiérrée and his exceptionally talented cast’s performance blends dance, acrobatics and music, alluding to genres and tropes from silent films to street magicians and improvisational comedy. Five characters tell a mythical story in a protean and dynamic space where sounds and music inhabit bodies that seem to move involuntarily as a medium for unseen forces, even as they execute brilliant and heart-stopping choreography, from ballet to gymnastics. Thematically influenced by Chaplin, Thiérrée’s grandfather and Beckett’s clowns, the piece also provides enough fodder for meditation on media and performance theory to satisfy the most theoretical audience. But “Farewell Umbrella” is also extremely funny, constantly upsetting expectations for how the performers’ bodies act and are acted upon as they dance with objects, morph into different entities and use the striking props and set in endlessly inventive ways. (Monica Westin)
At the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, 800 East Grand, (312)595-5600. This production is now closed.