I Am My Own Wife

The transvestite at Doug Wright's Pulitzer winner—who somehow survived both Hitler's Third Reich and the postwar purges of East Germany—makes an imperfect icon. His muse is a study in contradictions, a real person born as Lothar Berfelde 1928 and reborn as Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. (She died 10 years ago.) In a real way, I Am My Own Wife is a detective story, since both audience and playwright—Wright is also a character, since he interviewed Charlotte to research the play—are seeking to uncover who she might really be and how much she says is actually true. Beyond dispute is that Charlotte (played with delicate precision by Nick Garrison) began cross-dressing under the Nazis, continued under the Commies, and never surrendered her identity. But Charlotte did pay a price for her not-so-rugged individualism; and so apparently did the close friends whom she betrayed to the Stasi to survive. They are among the nearly 40 roles of varying nationalities, genders, and dialects whom Garrison also portrays; and he's ideally suited to the task. Directed by Jerry Manning, poised on Jennifer Zeyl's minimalist set, he lights the stage with a constellation of emotions, gestures, and a truly elastic set of vocal cords. As flawed as Charlotte may be, his performance is flawless and triumphant. KEVIN PHINNEY

Fri., Feb. 3, 8 p.m.; Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 3. Continues through March 10, 2012

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