CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Heath Ledger Still Lives in ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’
CHICAGO – Bogart, James Dean and Heath Ledger are not dead, they’re just stuck in the Netflix queue. And Ledger, with a little help from some friends, gets one more theatrical release in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”
In this Terry Gilliam directed fantasy, Heath Ledger portrays Tony, who becomes part of an “Imaginarium,” a traveling show featuring the mysterious Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer). Parnassus has the gift of being able to guide a person’s imagination and uses his medicinal show for flights of fancy that can magically become broader than the small stage on which it is presented.
The daughter of Parnassus, Valentina (Lily Cole), becomes involved in an old-time promise between Dr. P and Mr. Nick (an oily Tom Waits), who is actually the devil. Parnassus had exchanged his immortality for youth through Mr. Nick, so better to woo his former one true love. Lily became the result of this pairing and now Mr. Nick has come to collect her soul – per agreement – on the occasion of her 16th birthday.
Dr. Parnassus now has to scramble to ward off the ultimate evil, and agrees to a yet another contest with Mr. Nick. Whoever can get five souls first will be declared the winner of Valentina, but first an ever-evolving Tony, Dr. P and a cast of bizarre characters must journey themselves through the consequences of the Imaginarium to assure that this will be done.
Photo credit: © Liam Daniel for Sony Pictures Classic