Web of Absurdity

Consider the spider. Now, we’re not among those people who have nightmares about spiders. We’re okay with the little critters. But we also don’t hold them up as miraculous and sacred. Which is another way of saying, we don’t really care about spiders. Until we read a New Yorker story by David Sedaris a couple of years ago. He found a spider in a summer home in France. He was bothered by it, then he loved it, named it, made up stories about it, practically had a relationship with it, and (we think) took it with him when he left. We sometimes wonder what happened to that spider. Which is another way of saying: David Sedaris can find the profound and humorous in any boring situation. His sister Amy, on the other hand, is like a freight train hitting the same pack of boring. She’s known for a series called Strangers with Candy, where she plays a high school freshman — who is 46 years old and trying to get her life back in order. Put David and Amy together writing a script, and you get The Book of Liz. It’s about a religious community called Clusterhaven. The main character is Sister Elizabeth Dunderstock. She makes these cheeseballs, you see, and they’re stronger than the Bible when it comes to Clusterhaven. But Liz doesn’t feel appreciated, so she ventures into the outside world to find herself. She instead finds Ukrainians who speak with cockney accents, a guy in a peanut costume, and a restaurant run by 12-steppers. The Sedaris siblings don’t appear in this production, but Custom Made Theatre Co. has pulled in Bay Area heavyweights including its own Tavis Kammet, Allison Page of Killing My Lobster, Stephen Pawley of Word for Word, and Marie O’Donnell, who was in 2010’s Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins. We’re told the play also has a touching undercurrent; no word on whether it involves spiders.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: July 17. Continues through Aug. 28, 2011

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