When T.S. Eliot was in his early 30s and working as a bank clerk in London, he collapsed one day from exhaustion. In the few weeks of convalescence he was given he wrote The Waste Land, perhaps the greatest work of modern poetry. Now Jenny Magnus inadvertently inherits his legacy. Last summer she was so overworked–acting in her brother Bryn’s play, performing with two bands, and working full-time–that she “had a little bit of a nervous breakdown.” Two weeks later, in midrecovery, she “blurted out” The Trips, her most sophisticated work to date. The third in a series of mysteriously titled “Madras parables,” each performed with longtime artistic and romantic collaborator Beau O’Reilly, The Trips actually represents two journeys at once. In one Magnus and O’Reilly take a long, aimless road trip together and drive each other crazy. In the other they travel through their scripts, sorting through what they’ve projected on each other and what they expect, wondering if two people so intimately intertwined can ever really know each other. Ingeniously, the performers maintain both realities with equal fervency and hilarity. Sitting in a “car”–two chairs side by side–they read from music stands in front of them. When they turn off the highway in order to get “totally lost,” they launch into an absurd digression about sylphs. The result is a playful yet exquisitely formal hallucination–full of bangs and whimpers–performed by the subtlest, hippest comedy team in town. Link’s Hall, 3435 N. Sheffield, 281-0824. Opens Friday, December 1, 8 PM. Through December 9: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $8.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Greenberg.