Therapy Sessions

The first half of the play is riddled with inane dialogue such as "I'll have your tits in a blender for this," and "See if I don't put Ben-Gay in your Vagisil." Shortly after two vacationing girlfriends, Lily (Louniece SanFilipo) and Kate (Anna Hadzi), trade those priceless linguistic gems, a few meaningless barbs from Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? punctuate another discussion (sans any reference to either the play's title or to Albee himself). The play's seven characters ruminate about the snowstorm that's effectively forced them all to hole up in a bed-and-breakfast somewhere in the Sierra Madres. Then we're introduced to a gay couple, Alan (Darren Schroader) and Geoff (Karl deMarrais). Alan, so his art-critic boyfriend tells the assembled hotel guests, is a budding artist with a knack for drawing sketches of people who are experiencing emotional pain. "My portraits aren't art," Alan patiently explains, "they're therapy." By the time a matronly schoolteacher, Alice (Ruth Crowley), starts to tell us about the communication problems she's having with her husband, Ed (Ken Witt), most audience members are either uninterested, bored or confused.

Even so, we're obliged to become acquainted with the peculiar charms of the all-important character of Bill (Augie Truhn). Seems that this supposedly well-intentioned fellow, who spends much of his time skulking about the dark recesses of the inn, has the uncanny ability to purge people of their particular mental ailments. When Alan insists he doesn't want to confront the source of his aforementioned artistic talent, for example, a quietly intense Mr. Bill encourages the sensitive young man to remember the significant events of his childhood. After some coaching from the ubiquitous psycho-sleuth, Alan realizes that he draws portraits of others in order to more clearly define his own pain. (As we later discover, something horrible happened to Alan's parents when he was a lad.) A few minutes later, Act One mercifully ends.

As Act Two begins, Alice tells us that "Ed's been known to read entire books in the toilet" while Lily murmurs that "Kate wears flannel shorts, and she's not even a lesbian." Meanwhile, we learn that Alan's been off somewhere reliving the agony of his parents' demise, Mr. Bill has taken to knitting while spilling his guts about his gay brother, and Alice has been plagued by the strange sounds of a disembodied voice speaking lines from the nonsense poem "Jabberwocky." Without so much as a decent crisis or even a mildly interesting climax or two, the three "couples" resolve whatever differences have separated them throughout the play, and Mr. Bill surprises everyone when he discloses that he's been a figment of the characters' collective imagination all along. Plus, he never had a brother, let alone one who was gay.

Given that Cole has enjoyed considerable local success as an actor, director and designer, it's hard to fathom his reasons for believing that this odd assortment of human wreckage would serve as promising material for a serious play. If anything, these off-the-wall characters should be slamming mental doors in an intellectual farce that, based on his previously demonstrated flair for wit and satire, Cole would likely fashion with precision. As it is, the current effort leaves you wondering if the characters on stage are the only ones with a few cobwebs in the attic.

My Other Personality Is a Drag Queen, presented by genoa's mother presents, through September 12 at The Shop, 416 East 20th Avenue, 303-831-6095.

Traces of the Western Slopes, through September 14 at the Changing Scene, 1527 1/2 Champa Street, 303-893-5775.

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