Last week in these pages I praised Eclipse Theatre’s revival of Jean Cocteau’s The Infernal Machine. Sadly, the show was shut down–or rather, burned out–last weekend. A July 4 fire in the basement of the storefront theater at Leavitt and Charleston destroyed the company’s costumes, while the tiny street-level playing area sustained heavy smoke and water damage.

This marks the second time in less than a year that a Bucktown theater has been destroyed by a fire; last December flames gutted the Latino Chicago Theater Company at North and Damen, cutting short its production of ÁChe-Che-Che! (A Latin Fugue in 5/8 Time). Latino Chicago’s Gregorio Gomez says his company hopes to be back in operation this fall.

The Infernal Machine was the final presentation in Eclipse’s season of Cocteau plays. At press time the troupe was exploring the possibility of transferring the production to another venue, but for now the show is “on hold,” said Eclipse spokesman Ken Puttbach. “We had just decided what we were going to do next season,” added ensemble member Oscar Groves. “Now we have to figure out what we’re going to do this weekend.”


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by J.B. Spector.