Just when you think it is little more than an “Odd Couple” variation, Marisa Wegrzyn’s drama plunges down into a place so dark and suffocating it might as well be a grave. Estranged step-sisters Greta and Moo can’t agree on what to do with the house they’ve inherited from their recently deceased parents. The place is a dump: “I found a dead bat in the linen closet,” says Greta (Mierka Girten, wound tight as a steel cable). “I thought it was a sock.” Moo (Jenny Strubin, awkward in all the right ways) has been living in this filth for months, amidst large tubs of chemicals and unidentified slop. She has other matters on the brain, gradually luring Greta down the basement—shrouded in plastic like something out of “Dexter”—where the truth about mom and dad finally comes out. This is a small play (one act, two characters) with big issues, a sweet-and-sour display of hypocrisy and desperation, of loneliness and recriminations and recreational terrorism and pathologies run amok. “She looks like an angel that got punched in the face,” Moo says describing a photograph of her mother, and it is a prime example of Wegrzyn’s acerbic-incisive writing style. Tara Mallen’s direction for Rivendell Ensemble doesn’t leave much room for the intensity to build—the performances, while excellent (particularly Strubin as the hermit provocateur), start at full-throttle and remain there throughout. It makes for a completely immersive experience, but by the end the play surrenders all confidence and sense of purpose once the confessions are laid bare. (Nina Metz)
At Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, (773)347-1375. This production is now closed.