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Fratricide by word of mouth

Witty wordplay, brazen theatricality, and a performance by Elizabeth Ashley that will knock your socks off: Such are the virtues of “Me, Myself & I” at Playwrights Horizons. If only Edward Albee’s latest work had some substance. Scratch the surface and there’s nothing underneath.    

Witty wordplay, brazen theatricality, and a performance by Elizabeth Ashley that will knock your socks off: Such are the virtues of “Me, Myself & I” at Playwrights Horizons.


If only Edward Albee’s latest work had some substance. Scratch the surface and there’s nothing underneath.


The premise of “Me” is that OTTO (Zachary Booth), in proclaiming to his mother (Ashley) and her paramour (Brian Murray) that his identical twin otto (Preston Sadleir) doesn’t exist anymore, has in fact caused otto to cease to exist. As a result, everyone, including otto’s girlfriend (Natalia Payne) is in a dither.


What’s most troubling about the play is the unquestioning ease with which all the characters buy into OTTO’s pronouncement, despite the physical evidence to the contrary: otto continues to walk and talk and breathe. In the play’s internal logic, physical evidence is everything: when Murray is revealed in bed fully dressed in a suit and tie, we accept it without question. And OTTO’s other announcement, that he intends to become Chinese, is greeted with skepticism, or at least questions.


It’s enjoyable to witness Albee’s fluidity with form and language, as verbally astute characters segue in and out of the play to address the audience. And the smoky-voiced Ashley is a wide-eyed force of nature, commanding the stage without overwhelming the expert Murray or the other deft cast members. But “Me, Myself & I” doesn’t add up. It’s a hollow trinity without a payoff.

 
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