Darwin's Finches

There's a thin line between Zen-like calm and a coma


Through May 11

Tickets are $15-20



Thick House, 1695 18th St. (between Arkansas and De Haro), S.F.

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Claire Chafee's new play deals with a lesbian professor of literary theory, her French fling, and a strange entanglement among people in the rest of her family that happens while she's in Paris. It's subtitled "a romantic comedy for the depressed," which sounds promising, but onstage -- in spite of a strong cast -- the play is plodding and static. Scene follows scene with the watchful quietude of a Godard film but none of its life; in fact, the male characters, Willit and Bob, are so absurdly stiff that I was surprised to find them involved in a drama involving Willit's sister -- surprised, in other words, that I was supposed to think of them as real people. (For example: Willit, who for some reason wants to be a weatherman, says, "I am so -- hopeful. Since the invention of Doppler radar." Later we need to sympathize with him.) Kate Sheehan is nevertheless charming as the French translator and lover of Sophie, the professor, and Amy Resnick does good work as Sophie, especially during her deadpan lecture on Roland Barthes. (I've always suspected that the best way to make fun of Barthes is to repeat his own ideas with a straight face, and Resnick proves me right.) But the show as a whole is deadly. There's a thin line between Zen-like calm and a coma, which Darwin's Finches has crossed.

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