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The Queen Be, at the Preston Bradley Center for the Arts. Local actress Clara Abellard wrote, directed, produced, and stars in this misguided autobiographical piece, which attempts to present her transition from awkward adolescence to spiritual enlightenment as a sort of epic hero's journey. It takes a fair amount of ego to present one's life story onstage, but The Queen Be is downright narcissistic. Worse, it's terminally dull and convoluted, with a spew of mumbo jumbo that passes for dialogue and a cast given to grotesque histrionics.

Part of the problem is that Abellard's alter ego seems interchangeable with Abellard herself, and her life as an actress and clairvoyant, though off the beaten path, is neither extraordinary nor interesting. When on occasion she manages to find some ironic distance--for instance, poking fun at New Age mysticism and her attraction to gay males--The Queen Be almost becomes engaging. Perhaps it would have worked better as a one-woman show, which would have forced Abellard to focus her writing--and spared the other five members of the cast the embarrassment of being involved in the production. --Nick Green

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