By BOB BOWS
Despite the passage of more than 40 years
since it was published, the psychiatric issues raised by Joanne Greenberg's
famous account of her struggle with schizophrenia remain timely, particularly
given the current controversies raging over the ubiquitous use of
antidepressants (and other mood- and mind-altering drugs) by adults and children.
brightly costumed, imaginatively decorated monsters to represent the voices
haunting Deborah Klein, the autobiographical subject, and cross-hatching
these internal dialogues with sessions between doctor and patient,
Pinned between these worlds -- the murky stone-faced medieval towers upstage, evoking the most hideous asylums, and a series of interiors as needed downstage -- Karalyn Pytel's Deborah writhes and cowers, and, alternately, analyzes her own predicament with a lucidity that impresses her therapist, the irrepressible Dr. Fried (Paige L. Larson).
Pytel's characterization is impressive in the detail of its psychotic indications, especially in her seemingly involuntary hand gestures, self-inflicted abuses and facial distortions. The uniqueness of her disturbance is underscored by an equally creative turn from Kellie Rae Rockey as Carla, Deborah's institutionalized cohort.
In addition to
Though they're not given a lot to work with during the early scenes, Rick Bernstein and Karen Kargel, as Deborah's parents, slowly piece together the trappings of a difficult marriage in perfs that eventually exhibit an impressive gravity. Clyde Sacks is a sinister and slithering Anterrabae, the chief god of Deborah's imaginary -- and compensatory -- world of Yr.
Never having been workshopped,
Also, the rough texture of the heavily episodic first act could be smoothed out by reconceiving the scene changes to eliminate some blackouts and speed the action around the stage.
Overall, though, the
dramatic arc is a compelling mix of personal, familial and professional
themes that represents the actual events in a way the 1977 film does not.