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The House of Lily

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The House of Lily, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It takes only a few speeches for us to realize that the three characters here are not talking to one another but to themselves--and that soliloquizers tend to reiterate phrases significant to them and leave genuine information unarticulated. But the real problem is that playwright Lydia Stryk isn't talking to us: The House of Lily isn't so much a play as a poem scored for three voices.

The dominant voice is that of Lily, a self-assured feminist given to long harangues on How Things Ought to Be. Her proletarian girlfriend, Gina, accuses her of being a softie underneath all the rhetoric. But Lily doesn't come to terms with the past she's been trying to escape until her aged father--a man on the edge of senility, so he has an excuse for talking to himself--begins to call her by her long-deceased mother's name.

Director Curt Columbus and a durable cast--Martha Lavey as the ambivalent Lily, Amy Warren as the pragmatic Gina, and Gary Wingert as the fading patriarch--make a valiant effort in this world premiere to transform their monologues into a semblance of conversation. But the distance engendered by Stryk's introspective tone and the actors' propensity to speak in ponderously measured rhythms, as if delivering lectures, put a stop to any sympathy we might have mustered for their characters.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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