Playwright: Sarah Myers. At: Solo Celebration at the Greenhouse, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets: $34-$48. Runs through: Oct. 9
Our narrator's first words to her audience are "I could marry you." Before we look for an irate father brandishing a shotgun, however, she explains that, although raised Jewish, she is certified by the Church of Spiritual Humanism to perform marriage ceremoniesa call possibly inspired by her family's propensity for declaring wedlock the solution to every crisis of indecision and, therefore, a practice to be embraced impulsively and often.
This philosophy, as we discover over the next 80 minutes, engenders such quaint habits as introducing boyfriends as "future ex-husbands," on-and-off lesbian proclivities, nuptial rites conducted by internet-ordained clergy and hair-splitting discussions of fine shadings inherent in the diction of southern regions ( e.g. "I might could marry you" ) It also mandates extensive diagramming of a family tree that spreads like kudzu off the whiteboard ( or mirror, depending on where you're sitting ) onto the floor, as the speaker identified only as "ME" acquaints us with her manymany, manyrelations, half-relations, step-relations and quasi-relations, acquired over generations of marital roulette based in Mendelian pragmatism, mythic predestination and ease of opportunity.
The lengthy lists of ancestors recited ( in plays, anyway ) at Jewish funerals would seem to indicate that lineage is an important part of that culture, and playwright Sarah Myers is hardly the sole woman of that tribe to explore the role of her progenitors in shaping her own destiny. What if you're a playgoer born to a clan more circumspect in its procreative imperative, though? What if you consider the alleged sanctity of marriage and responsible parenting to be more devalued by promiscuous serial monogamy than by any number of interracial or same-sex unions? What if you're unfamiliar with Passover Seder protocol, specifically the "silent cup" reserved for the spectral visit of the prophet Elijah? What's to prevent your succumbing to the cognitive dizziness of a plus-one at a family reunion whose participants require name-tags to identify one another?
Unfortunately, not much. Despite the shmoozy conviviality displayed by Caren Silkaitis as she guides us through Myers' genealogical retrospective, the author's egocentric stance, evidenced by stream-of-consciousness narrative and abrupt changes of subject, cannot help but leave us struggling to keep pace with her epistemological contemplations. Further eroding our attention is Matthew Carney's lighting scheme, which too often isolates Silkaitis in tightly illuminated pools surrounded by a stage cloaked in darknessan arrangement promoting eyestrain leading to visual fatigue and, eventually, drowsiness.