Seven actors in bright Mod jackets stand and sprawl around a set of gray cracked floor tiles and gray boxes.
The ensemble of Bowie in Warsaw at Trap Door Theatre Credit: Krzysztof Babiracki

Paweł Świątek directs the U.S. premiere of Dorota Masłowska’s arch 70s-era murder mystery/comedy of manners (translated by Soren Gauger). Rumors fly wild in the streets of Warsaw about a mythical stalker terrorizing the citizenry while the true villain pervading their society seems to be a blanketing existential despair. In the last days of Soviet hegemony, the provinces that were once under its grip are pervaded by a new rudderlessness. An economic, emotional, and sexual immobility has settled over the land, and most have resorted to chasing phantoms rather than finding a meaningful way out.

Bowie in Warsaw
Through 7/1: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Trap Door Theatre, 1655 W. Cortland, 773-384-0494,, $25 (two for one Thu)

Clad in matching swirling color jackets, sequined black pants, and bright-pink heels (costumes by Rachel Sypniewski), the cast struts about the spare set like stars in a Eurodisco floor show. Young women huddle to spread half-truths about sexual exploits, mothers alternate horror stories with unrealizable hopes for their children, and a popular author’s book is unavailable because a bookshop owner has bought up all the copies and burned them out of envy.

As with many Trap Door productions, narrative structure is obscured—sometimes vigorously stomped into incoherence—in favor of a kind of overlapping polyphony. The effect is a kind of enveloping full-body testimony of emotional truths over mere plot points. The talented ensemble seamlessly shifts roles and scenes to build a portrait of a crumbling community. Is it really David Bowie or just another unwanted suitor attacking Warsaw’s populace? I couldn’t tell you. But as young and old shout over one another to share this or that outrage, it’s clear this is not the same old moonage daydream.