"Four stars

The Alley Theatre;directed by Michelle Kelley

In three tragicomic monologues ranging from good to great, three characters grapple with their lives after the deaths of loved ones. From a funeral home waiting room, they conjure unseen people and places and command our deepest compassion. Amid potted plants and spilled hard candy, a middle-aged mortician (Doug Horn) confesses his crush on a real estate agent who politely hustles for clients among the bereaved. Next, an aging California blonde (Victoria Smith) on an endless one-night stand returns home for the funeral of her millionaire grandmother. In the best and final story, a widow (Mary Atkins) wonders whimsically, then desperately, just where did she meet her husband all those years ago? Playwright Jeffrey Hatcher has a playful ear for proper names that fit, like Dino DiBerbio the mobster and Tutti Vaughn the gossip. When he calls a town Stockbridge, you know what happened there was sad, and when he names a street Braybarton, you know it was beloved. It seems almost just for the sake of wordplay that two of the tales turn tragic. First, a figurative slippery slope turns deadly and, second, a neglected broken door puts a husband much further out than the doghouse. Director Michelle Kelley and her players could have played those plot twists more subtly to better effect. With the last tale, however, Kelley and Atkins near perfection. Through Nov. 10; 317-926-8888.

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