This guided tour of family dysfunction, Irish-Catholic Minnesota-style, follows the old trope that siblings can rip into each other one moment, and fall into a Hallmark embrace the next. Sisters Ruby (weird and immature) and Rose (emotionally drained) and their brother Seamus (a straight-up jerk) are downstairs trading paint with verbal jousts and sarcastic putdowns—“How much are you gonna drink,” Rose is mocked as she guzzles down her wine, “the whole box?”—while upstairs their unseen mother lies dead. And then a stranger from back east breaks into the house and announces that he is a “Brooklyn-born-and-bred answer to your prayers.” All this daffy turmoil is played for laughs, but on the whole it is neither funny nor terribly engrossing. Somehow, by the play’s end the siblings miraculously reach a détente. Is this really how families work, or just families created by playwrights? I ain’t buying it, and author Julia Jordan’s efforts to conjure a wacky/poetic sensibility feel self-conscious and forced. Curiously, the American Theater Company production, directed by Steppenwolf ensemble member Rick Snyder (who showed more directorial finesse a few years ago with “Orange Flower Water”) features some very strong acting—particularly Cheryl Graeff’s Rose, who is both brittle and pliant—alongside a cringe-inducing, wildly miscalculated performance from Gwendolyn Whiteside, who turns Ruby into a cartoonish approximation of a human being. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.