UNIVERSES' The Big Bang
Elizabeth Kenan Theatre, UNC Campus—UNIVERSES, the urban spoken word/ poetry/ theater/ music troupe out of the South Bronx that PlayMakers brought to Chapel Hill in 2007, has been making a big splash this year with a show called Ameriville. It headlined the prestigious Humana Festival of New American Plays in the spring and toured the country thereafter. If the title rings a bell with local theatergoers, it should: Judging by the reviews and descriptions, the troupe performed a significant part of the work, about Katrina's impact and aftermath in New Orleans, when it was here two years ago. Anyone who caught that show will still recall the epic moment where a gravel-throated spectre quoted Tom Waits: "Misery is the river of the world. Everybody row."
The Big Bang is an anthology of spoken word, slam poetry, music and theater pieces that go back to the group's beginnings 13 years ago. It's also the name of an anthology of company works being published by TCG Publications this spring. Which means this week's show should feature the real-time multitrack dialogue and intricate verbal counterpoint, compelling human percussion, sharp-edged sensibilities and social observations that made them a hit two years ago. As we said then, anyone interested in taking both hands theater's brand of rhythm, rhyme, narrative and wit way uptown should not miss this show. Performances are Jan. 13-16 at 8 p.m. and Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. Visit www.playmakersrep.org. —Byron Woods