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Good Bones and Simple Murders

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Good Bones and Simple Murders, at Stage Left Theatre. If the essays collected under the title Good Bones and Simple Murders are any indication, Margaret Atwood represents the branch of feminist writers perpetually afflicted with the pip. The personae she adopts--from Cinderella's neglected stepsister to a cheerfully misandrist Martha Stewart manque to the inevitable rape victim--all carp about what a raw deal women get from (a) prettier and sweeter-tempered women, (b) a society that rewards pretty, sweet-tempered women, and (c) men, a species to be either pitied or mocked, humiliation being the only levity allowed by those who would rewrite fairy tales to conform to modern social demographics and ideals.

Ninety minutes in the company of a writer who makes Florence King sound like Helen Gurley Brown might still have been crafted into an entertaining one-woman show if director Vincent P. Mahler and performer Eileen Glenn could have rooted Atwood's sour grapes in a variety of personalities. But though Glenn glides gracefully from arch sarcasm to peevish indignation to pensive pessimism, her girlish delivery remains too often in the same voice, emphasizing the monotony of the material. The final episode, in which an elderly narrator scatters the ashes of her dead companion's "good bones" over a beloved garden, ignites a spark of empathy but comes too late. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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