April 6, 2015

The Artiste’s feather boa is molting all over the stage, little clumps breaking off and drifting to the floor. Such disintegrating glamour is a perfect metaphor for the desperate state of her career, but this is one of many things she chooses not to see. In “Music Hall,” the French playwright Jean-Luc Lagarce’s beautiful and incantatory piece of stage poetry at 59E59 Theaters, the Artiste’s frantic, willful myopia is a survival mechanism: How could she go on otherwise, holding tight to her shredded dignity? Translated by Joseph Long and directed by Zeljko Djukic for his company, Tuta Theater Chicago, “Music Hall” is about the Artiste’s little company of three, who hoof from stage to ever more pathetic stage, performing their show in humiliatingly remote towns. They know “the difference between comfort and art,” as the Artiste (Jeffrey Binder) says, and they choose art. However dire the conditions, they will make the show work. What’s frustrating about Mr. Djukic’s production is its failure to adapt to the perfectly serviceable space at 59E59. With the audience on two sides of the stage, the show is performed for the most part as if it were a proscenium piece, playing to only one section.