Consider this assortment of 11 short selections from the Jacqueline Wright sketchbook a fine introductory primer to the playwrights signature dada-ist inversions of romantic love. The pieces play like prosodic postmortems of relationships gone horribly wrong. With Wright, characters dont fall in love so much as become ensnared in predatory webs of their own inchoate yearnings, unalloyed cruelties and unnatural appetites. The love bites here carry gruesome venom. Thus, in Milk, Kirsten Vangsnesss psychically crippled black widow in a wedding dress satisfies her voracious need for something warm and red by literally consuming beau David Wilcox. Likewise, Mantis finds a shell-shocked Lauren Letherer prodded by her conscience (Scott McKinley) into coming to terms with the dead guy . . . on the floor. In Sleeping Spider, a young victim of incest (Vangsness) takes refuge from her broken family by retreating into the fantasy of her own crayon wall drawings come to life. Pops shifts gears in a comic burlesque of a gender-switched melodrama as Lynn Odell, Mandi Moss and Wilcox enact the dénouement of a homicidal triangle. But Wright can also transcend the bitter as with Beautiful, a sweetly moving meditation on mortality, loss and the authenticity of even a dying love. Director Dan Bonnell matches Wrights viscerally vivid poetry note for note with graphically compelling stage imagery, precisely tuned blocking, and a razor-sharp ensemble.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Aug. 29. Continues through Oct. 4, 2008