While there is no question that a living wage is imperative for the health of this country, Nickel and Dimed
's self-righteous and stereotypical characterization of "poor" people was troubling. The premise -- a well-off writer, Barbara, slums it for a few months to get material for a book -- is based on the book by Barbara Ehrenreich, who actually tried this experiment. But the working-class people she meets are drawn with too broad a brush, such as the born-again Christian with an abusive, gun-toting husband or the meatloaf-making maid with a house chock-full of live-in relatives. The depictions of low-income people are disparaging. Barbara's own self-consciousness about possibly being recognized as a big-name author or that her L.L. Bean shirt would give her away just make her point of view less valid -- and she makes the comment that minorities are taking all the good low-paying jobs. Her shock over the cheapness of someone's shoes, their pitiful lunches and the idea that people WENT WITHOUT HEATH INSURANCE (gasp!) are naive. Those of us who have eaten nothing but Raman noodles for weeks on end and did not have a credit card to turn to when our next meal became questionable have more depth, education and diversity than this. Director Ronn Johnstone runs with the playwright's skewed vision, at one point allowing Barbara -- played by Cameron Bourquein -- to be positively maudlin with empathy. The large cast of multipurpose actors does a good job of creating distinct characters, but Johnstone allows them to fall into caricatures instead of characters too often. Through March 14; 317-685-8687.