Tuesday, October 19, 2010

'Me, Myself and I' and Other Strange Bedfellows

Elizabeth Ashley, Brian Murray, Zachary Booth, Preston Sadleir and Natalia Payne, above, in "Me, Myself and I." Photo by Joan Marcus.


"Me, Myself and I" is one of the latest works by America's greatest living dramatist, Edward Albee, who famously gave us "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

Identity, the self as other. The self as outsider. The self as twin. EA doesn't curry favor, but the audience at Playwrights Horizon – uneasy at times with the absurdist plot ably directed by Emily Mann – gives him laughs.

Here are OTTO, the adept and excellent Zachary Booth, and his twin brother, otto, sweetly played by Preston Sadleir who make up the trio of the title. OTTO addresses the audience directly, breaking the fourth wall. He is disrespectful. He is inconsiderate. He also has charm to spare. The protagonist, self-professed evil twin, OTTO, doesn't like his family and has some far-fetched plans to escape it.

Grande dame Elizabeth Ashley, taking over the role Tyne Daly originated when “Me, Myself and I” debuted in 2008 at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, is their slovenly and perplexed Mother. She is also as sexy and slutty as a dame of a certain age can be. To add to her confusion, she gave her sons the same name but with different cases, and the names are spelled the same backward and foreword (palindromes and twins). She doesn't know to which son she is speaking.

Mother’s bedmate, the Dr., played by multiple Tony and Drama Desk award winner Brian Murray, is the perfect foil. "You mean metaphorically," he says, when it is clear she means literally.

Identity, the self, ego and the other – all serious issues – are taken seriously, despite the shenanigans.

Lest this reviewer reveal the various plot turns and twists – most of them tight – she will conclude by asserting an appreciation of “Me, Myself and I (extended through 31 Oct.) for its cheeky presentation and theatricality.

Visit http://www.playwrightshorizons.org/mainstage.asp for more information about “Me, Myself and I.”

Tamara Beck is President, Clean Lists Associates, Inc, an association management firm. And an avid theater-goer.

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