If you’ve seen any of playwright Edward Albee’s works before — surreal oddities like Marriage Play and The Play About the Baby — the extremely weird nature of Me, Myself & I at Off Broadway’s Playwrights Horizons probably won’t surprise you. But if you’re unfamiliar with Albee, prepare yourself for two hours of sheer absurdity, befuddling wordplay, and near constant confusion. Actually, even if you are familiar with Albee, prepare yourself anyway — Me is one perplexing, crazy show.
The plot of Me is so silly that it’s difficult to explain, but here’s a start: A woman called Mother, who’s played with delicious intensity by the ever-raspy and wonderful Elizabeth Ashley, can’t tell her identical-twin sons apart, perhaps because she named them OTTO (Zachary Booth) and otto (Preston Sadleir). OTTO is evil and manipulative; otto is sweet and loving. Seated beside her live-in doctor friend (the extremely strong Brian Murray), Mother repeatedly asks her sons, ”Which one are you?” She never seems to truly grasp the situation she’s in, although she is its main architect.
To cap things off, OTTO announces that he’s going to become Chinese and, even more bizarrely, that his brother otto does not exist. This news confuses Mother and enrages otto, who tries desperately to understand whether he does indeed exist. (The whole time, you are left to wonder if OTTO and otto really do exist or if they’re just two sides of one being.) The four main players, who deliver fast and furious non-sequiturs, go round and round about existence and life — without appearing to actually land anywhere. There are several cute little nods to the audience that break down the fourth wall: ”A confused audience,” one character states, ”is not an attentive one.” But as this play proves, you can indeed be both utterly confused and completely attentive.
The best way to approach Me, Myself & I is to go into it without the intent of wringing black-and-white meanings from everything that is unfolding. Me is supposed to make you think and feel and, yes, be entertained. B
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