Brooke Bagnall’s one-woman show at the Annoyance may take a while to get going, but once it does, this collection of interlocking scenes achieves real comedic potency. Bit by bit, Bagnall creates her world. It is actually a ridiculously ambitious undertaking, and by the end of the show’s forty-five minutes, I was convinced of its success.
A pair of art-school students sit in a coffee shop, trading stories and flirting. Jennifer is the female half, clad in adult braces and a hyper-kinetic sense of self. Travis is the male half, sitting across from her in a shirt that reads: “I wish my lawn was Emo so it would cut itself.” Soon we meet Travis’ dad, Phil, who comes home from work to find his wife “fisting a jar of peanut butter.” They haven’t had sex in a long time, and Phil offers helpfully: “Maybe part of you is dead.” His wife is admittedly a mess, leaving long-winded voicemails to her assistant at work between sips of chamomile tea. Their marriage is on the rocks, and Phil tries to explain this to Travis: “Your mother doesn’t touch me like she used to. She used to at least pull on it.” And then, as an afterthought: “There was one time she put it underneath her armpit while she finished a book.” It is such a weird, unexpected line, and that sensibility carries through the rest of the show. Directed by Megan Grano, the blackouts between scenes are juiced with funky music that keeps the show moving forward; you can see Bagnall, in the half darkness, bouncing to the beat. This is a girl who likes to dance, and that exuberance bleeds over into her performance. She is not necessarily an actor with great range, but her characters have a lot of heart, and the show finagles a genuinely offbeat humor that creeps up on you. (Nina Metz)
“Idiot: A Love Story in Pieces” runs at Annoyance Theatre, 4830 North Broadway, (773)561-4665, through September 9.