April 27, 2006


 "Still Life with Iris" Vittum Theater offers a terrific 90 minutes of enchantment for you and your children (age 7 and up) with "Still Life with Iris". Set in the land of Nocturno, where industrious citizens work all night, every night, to produce all the elements required by Nature for another day on Earth. The play features an array of impressive magic tricks and sleights-of-hand. Nocturnians’ coats are magical, too, containing all the memories of their past lives. Great care must be taken with these coats, for a careless tear or a button gone missing will result in a lost memory or a gap in the past.

Young Iris lives with her mother in Nocturno. Her father disappeared when she was small. When Iris is summoned by the powerful Gretta and Grotto Good, commanded to leave her mother and her home behind and come to the Goods’ island fortress to live as their own daughter, the coats of both Iris and her mother are taken away. Each immediately becomes a stranger to the other, with no memory of anything but the present moment. No memories, no pain!

But Iris manages to take one button from her coat with her when she goes away. This button tugs at her memory, so that throughout her subsequent travels, she never stops feeling drawn back to her home. "Still Life with Iris" highlights the theme of the precious nature of memories as anchors in our heart to our home and our identity. Expertly directed and gloriously designed, the production features a top-notch cast. The tight pace of the show makes the intermission-less one and a half hours fly by, so that neither I nor my 11-year-old daughter had any problem with restlessness. Our only quibble with the production was the exaggeratedly perky "children's theater" acting style, but this was most noticeable at the beginning of the play. Mahala says, "I liked the costumes and the magic tricks; but they shouldn't have acted as if they were talking to little kids, because most of the kids in the audience weren't that little." Kristin Gehring


"Still Life with Iris" runs at 2 p.m. Saturdays through May 11 at Vittum Theater, 1012 N. Noble St., Chicago. $15, $12 seniors, $10 kids 14 and under. (773) 342-4141, www.vittumtheater.org.


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