Directed by Martha Jacobs
Through April 6
The fourth wall goes up and down so many times in Well I got vertigo just watching it.
The play, by Lisa Kron, is a self-indulgent work that uses the playwright and her mother as main characters. It is made up of three elements: direct address towards the audience, a play within a play and the interaction of Kron with her mother.
In Well, Kron is re-creating her childhood with her perpetually sick mother (she suffers from “allergies”) via Kron’s new theater experiment, which she and four actors are rehearsing in her mother’s living room. While the main issue is Kron confronting her mother’s health issues, thrown in is her mother’s work in revitalizing and integrating their Michigan neighborhood — an unnecessary subplot that barely skims the concepts of racial integration.
While Deborah Sargent (Kron) and Gayle Steigerwald (Ann, her mother) are lauded local theater staples with many excellent shows to their credit, here they are given too little to work with. Under director Martha Jacobs, the show feels exaggerated and over the top. You can’t sympathize with Sargent, who plays Kron as a tyrannical, self-centered adult child. Steigerwald is too doting of a mother figure for us to understand where Kron’s anger towards her is coming from. Supporting actors Danny Russel, Kai Mwaafrika, Gail Bray and Michael H. Smith seem forced even when they are performing as “themselves.”
Well continues through April 6. Tickets are $25, or $15 if you are under age 25. The Phoenix is at 749 N. Park Ave.; 317-635-PLAY.