Phoenix II Theater (Downstairs), 653 Geary (at Leavenworth), S.F.
Through March 17. Tickets are $13-20; call 789-8558.
Though Dietz challenges us with abstract questions, he has also created characters whose suffering is intoxicating. Compassion and humor (the husband's manic therapy session) as well as a dash of fantasy (the aloof waitress who turns into a sexy private dick capable of murder) make for stimulating characters. The talented cast re-absorbs the audience time and again with its provocative interactions and humane depictions of both the paralytic moments inspired by suspicion and guilt and the masterful viciousness that deceit arouses. Although the Phoenix Theater's intimacy is a luxury for the audience and serves this piece well, one can't help but feel this talented group does not belong in any basement venue.