Doorika, Chicago’s true champions of the avant-garde, have consistently thrown conventional theatrical logic to the wind in their highly inventive and suggestive theater pieces. In their 1990 masterpiece and Chicago debut, North of the Lake on the Seventh Day, performed in Tthe then-gutted World Tattoo Gallery, several scenes were staged 100 feet behind the audience. In their 1992 Satellite Babushka, an homage to Chekhov, the ten-minute opening scene was performed entirely in Russian. Hardly a word of Walter Abish’s writing made it into their 1993 adaptation of his work, In So Many Words. Their latest offering–Throes, the second part of a trilogy called Saajury–is perhaps their least logical. Director Erika Yeomans has staged most of the piece in the nebulous cement gulf between audience and stage, that no-man’s land where directing professors have traditionally warned their students never to set foot. While the choice is partly based on practical considerations–the Chicago Filmmakers stage has been commandeered by an enormous movie screen for Paula Killen’s Friends With Fire Arms–placing the piece in this theatrical wasteland accentuates its themes of aimlessness and despair (though it may complicate audience sight lines). Inspired by Nagisa Oshima’s 1960 film Cruel Story of Youth (in several scenes, verbatim transcriptions of the film’s subtitles are accompanied by ridiculous stylized gestures) and Shintaro Ishihara’s nihilistic novel Season of Violence, Doorika’s piece at once lampoons the melodrama of its sources and elevates their core sense of emptiness and longing. By Doorika’s standards Throes is a work in progress, but its thematic complexity and sheer audacity make it well worth seeing despite its rough edges. Chicago Filmmakers, 1543 W. Division, 409-2617. Thursday, August 18, 10 PM; Friday, August 19, 10 PM (followed by live music by Number One Cup and Miam Miam featuring Chris Holmes and Joy Gregory); Saturday, August 27, 8 and 10 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzanna Bierwirth.