A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

There should be a theater genre called "What Can You Say?". Things are tough in such plays, and then they get worse, and what can you say? This biting, funny, sad, and lengthy 1967 dramedy by Peter Nichols chronicles Brian and Sheila's thankless project of keeping both their permanently catatonic young daughter Jo (Aidyn Stevens) and their marriage alive. At nearly three hours (including intermission), it's a project keeping the audience alive, too. But this challenge is readily met by a gifted cast directed by Daniel Wilson for the new Thalia's Umbrella theater company. Terry Edward Moore's Brian copes with manic bouts of cut-up, while Sheila (Leslie Law) lavishes affection on every living thing but Brian (at least that's how he sees it). The very non-PC script yields many awkward laughs, especially in the far more dynamic second act when hilarious friends Freddie (Brandon Whitehead) and his contemptuous wife Pam (Carol Roscoe) drop by. Venerable Suzanne Corzatte, who had played Sheila many years ago, now plays Brian's troublemaking mom. At the center of Jason Phillips' fine middle-class living room set is a ring-shaped decorative sculpture, dangling like a life preserver just out of reach. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 31. Continues through Feb. 17, 2013

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