No bottled water at the American Repertory Theater!
That’s the rule through the run of Eve Ensler’s haughty, convoluted “O.P.C.,” an implausible tale of familial dysfunction. “O.P.C.” feels like a scolding from the proverbial ivory tower where people apparently think it’s not insensitive to make dumpster diving pretty. But it gets silly long before Ensler’s pristine characters forage through a box of bananas and assorted “trash” to make her heavy-handed statement about overconsumption.
“O.P.C.” stands for obsessive political correctness and the A.R.T. seems to have come down with a case of it. They’ve dispensed with printed programs for this production and they really aren’t selling bottled water during, which feels like shtick (unless of course they plan to abandon the practice ad infinitum).
Brett J. Banakis employs the idea of combating overconsumption most effectively with an impressive, multi-tiered set composed of repurposed cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, straws, dolls, dumpsters and assorted tchotchkes. If it was gritty, it would’ve felt less like a place where a defiant little rich girl pretends to be homeless just to aggravate mother.
After discovering her freegan daughter Romi (Olivia Thirlby) squatting in an abandoned, yet remarkably clean building, senate candidate Smith (Kate Mulligan) sets out to spin this problem to her campaign’s advantage. Familial dysfunction and the pursuit of political power collide and the results include a line of high-fashion dresses made from fruit skin, mental illness and enough “Aha!” moments to remind the audience what they’re supposed to believe.
Thirlby’s performance is both preachy and shrill, while Mulligan tries so hard not to be Hilary Clinton that she practically becomes the former Senator. On the plus side, Nicole Lowrance is perfection as party-line towing daughter Kansas, while Liz Mikel’s Oprah-inspired talk-show host is the brightest moment of all.
Academy award-winning actress Melissa Leo pulled out of the production at the last minute due to creative differences with Ensler(who also wrote “The Vagina Monologues”). Good choice, Miss Leo.
If you go
American Repertory Theater, 64 Brattle St., Cambridge
$25 – $75