Lucky Plush Productions’ Fall Double Feature at Links Hall (review)

Cinderbox 2.0 is just as good the second time around…

The newish Links Hall is still a work in progress. The old Viaduct seats are lumpy, the floor is a tap floor that transforms dainty landings into inelegant galumphing, and the coup de grace: a bathroom stall that’s been broken since the first week they moved in (last February).  But Links is meant to be a DIY space, even for Lucky Plush Productions, a company with the chutzpah to keep up with companies twice the size and three times the budget.  Lucky Plush is really, really good, and so is Cinderbox 2.0.  According to the program notes, the 2007 work marked a turning point for Artistic Director Julia Rhoads.  The blurred lines (insert Miley Cyrus joke here) between rehearsal and performance, improvisation and choreography, the completely scripted but seemingly unscripted moments that Lucky Plush is so famous for… were first developed with Cinderbox 18, and have informed Rhoads’s artistic vision ever since.  Version 2.0 is quite different from the original, but all the best bits are still in, like for example, Marc Macaranas, and a cheeky secret about Fiji water (which, if you STILL haven’t heard, it won’t be from me)…

Photo credit: Peter Wozniak

What I love about this piece is the honesty and humanity that comes with it.  I’m lucky (ha, lucky)….


I’m lucky to know a few of the dancers well enough to see that the text, the dance moves, the facial expressions – the characters onstage are pretty accurate representations of who they are as real people.  But then, a few moments later, gestures and casual text morph into fierce (yes, fierce) dance phrases from some of the best contemporary dancers in Chicago. What I love about this piece is that it’s unafraid to point out and exploit the obvious. Francisco Avina sweats a lot, the floor is loud, and Marc is from California (not Fiji). The important bits are magnified by the onstage presence of Lighting Designer/Stage Manager/Technical Director/Gaffer/Boom Operator Kevin Rechner. The complexities of human interaction with each other and the world are summarized by a flick of the hand, a nod of the chin, or a soliloquy in a fish dive. And it’s beautifully hilarious.

Speaking of Fiji, I have only one complaint about Cinderbox 2.0.  Rushing into the theatre, beverage in hand, I never imagined it would be nearly 90 minutes before I could take a bathroom break.  And all that talk about water…. I mean, I’m not a fan of intermissions either but my ever-present full bladder distracted me from the long stretches of dancey dance and I barely made it to the end. That, and, come on Links Hall, it’s time to fix the other stall in the women’s bathroom.

Lucky Plush Productions presents Cinderbox 2.0 as part of a double feature engagement with the 2011 work The Better Half.  Showings of Cinderbox 2.0 continue today (Oct 5) at 4:00 pm and Oct 11-13 (7:00 pm). The Better Half premieres Oct 5 at 7 pm with additional performances Oct 6 and 10 at 7 pm and Oct 12 at 4 pm. All performances take place at Links Hall (3111 N. Western Ave).

Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and seniors). For more information and tickets, visit or call 773.281.0824.

The LUCKY PLUSH DOUBLE FEATURE is offered on Oct 5 and 12 and will involve a discounted ticket which will entitle audience members to see both shows, as well as to take part in an informal discussion with the artists in between shows that includes food and a complimentary drink. Email to reserve a space.

Author: Lauren Warnecke

Lauren Warnecke is a reporter for NPR affiliate station WGLT and freelance arts and culture critic, primarily reviewing dance for the Chicago Tribune. Lauren enjoys cooking, cycling and attempting to grow things in her backyard. She lives in central Illinois.