September 7, 2015

A bare-breasted woman was gently beating a shirtless man with nunchaku sticks. Another woman was stapled to the wall by her hair, long strands of it wrapped across her eyes, mouth and throat. It made for a vivid spectacle, but I was watching the chicken. The brown-feathered, yellow-footed bird wandered the stage at Jack, pecking at the scuffed wooden floor as the drama “They Are Gone but Here Must I Remain” played out around it. The chicken appeared to grow more distressed as the 90-minute performance continued, its soft, throaty noises becoming unignorably louder and more frequent until they were nearly constant. Part multimedia lecture, all provocation, this rather muddled show from the Sister Sylvester company is about the power of artists to incite action with images. Conceived and directed by Kathryn Hamilton, it uses the British director Peter Whitehead’s 1969 film “The Fall,” about the turmoil of New York in the Vietnam War era, to examine contemporary protest and apathy.