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Arts and Entertainment

The Black Rider's wild ride

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The Black Rider is stunning in its vision. On a nearly blank stage, actors move like broken puppets; costumes and makeup are extraordinary, horrific, expressionistic. The mastermind is director Robert Wilson, who has created a performance that is striking and unforgettable.

Wilson had two bigtime collaborators — Tom Waits wrote the music and William S. Burroughs wrote the story — but in the end it is the director who commands the show, now playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in downtown LA. Its first performance was in Germany in 1990, and the Germanness shows: it's the reworking of an 1821 opera, so hunting and the woods are very important.

The story is roughly this: nerdish boy meets girl, girl has overbearing (and very funny) father, father prefers another, loutish boy for his daughter, nerdish boy makes a pact with the devil to meet with dad's approval, things go predictably awry.