Me, Myself and I

Me, Myself and I is an Edward Albee play; that’s both a fact and a fairly consummate descriptor. At moments it’s absurd, then heartfelt then wildly funny and then over-the-top cartoonish. This made for a mostly pleasant theatre going experience, if not a thoroughly enjoyable one.

In his latest work, Albee introduces us to OTTO, one half of an identical twin duo. His brother is otto. (No, those aren’t typos.) His mother is Albee-crazy, which means she’s demented but has lucid moments and discoveries that make us question our acumen. OTTO and otto are 28 and Mother can’t tell them apart. The Doctor has been living with them (staying fully clothed – in a navy pinstripe suit – in bed) all these 28 years, ever since OTTO and otto’s father left the family. At rise, OTTO tells us he’s decided to get rid of his family and then proceeds to tell his mother and the doctor that his twin brother no longer exists – sending everyone, including otto’s girlfriend who firmly believe otto exists, into an existential crisis.

If it sounds confusing, don’t worry; it’s actually not. For as twisted as that plot sounds, it plays as rather straight forward. Even with clarity in tact it’s still a little tedious to sit through. There are definitely some juicy and funny bits to be enjoyed but as everyone started going on and on about their existence – or lack thereof – I found myself drifting off and fantasizing about my own. Maybe that was the point: That we should ponder our existence and make sure we’re living our own lives, but I’m always of the mind that if a play doesn’t capture me and hold my undivided attention, it’s somehow lacking.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. Most of the cast was good. Zachary Booth was charismatic as the conniving OTTO and Elizabeth Ashley was just right as the eccentric, wacky-but-just-might-be-on-to-something Mother. As Dr. (as he’s billed in the Playbill), Brian Murray was commanding and stood as the voice of reason. Preston Sadleir, making his off-Broadway debut here, seems to have been cast more for being able to mirror Booth than for his acting abilities. He was fine but there were times when it looked like he was ready to break. I don’t mean he looked fragile, I mean that he looked like he was ready to bust out laughing at any moment – even at moments of high drama. This was disappointing because seeing him come out of the moment brought me out of the moment, and as I mentioned above I was having trouble remaining present as it was.

For all its tedium the play passed by at a relatively quick clip – it was just about two hours, including a 15 minute intermission. Many plays are taking to omitting the intermission and going 90 minutes(ish) straight but here, I’m glad we had a break. I think if I had had to sit through an hour and forty-five minutes without a moment to leave Albee’s world, I would have been scratching and clawing to get back to mine. Instead, I remained still in my seat, trying to appreciate the absurdist humor that is the quintessence of one our most lauded living playwrights. (At 82, he’s still around and kicking!)

Me, Myself and I is currently playing at Playwrights Horizons.