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The Lindner Briefs

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THE LINDNER BRIEFS, Uffish Theater Company, at Stage Left Theatre. Once Jason M. Lindner outgrows his zeal for demonstrating his intelligence, he should make a good playwright. Working from a foundation of Beckett-Stoppard absurdism, he demonstrates sharp comic timing and a genuine, disarming passion for wit and metaphysical distraction. But as he's certain to learn before long, plays that revolve around metaphors for philosophical formulas are more fun to write than to watch.

What saves the precious but engaging babble of The Lindner Briefs--three surreal vignettes that clock in at about 80 minutes--is Uffish's energetic, whip-smart staging. The cast is almost uniformly excellent; last-minute-replacement lead Frank Janisch isn't quite as assured as the rest, but saddled as he is with all the show's unperformable monologues, he does yeoman's work. Director Lauren A. Miller has cannily taken an aggressive Brechtian approach to the material, rendering the schematic characterizations palatable.

What Lindner's getting at eludes me, however. "Shylock's Overcoat," an extended riff on The Merchant of Venice, is carried by antagonists Julia Siple and Michael Spatafora. "Duck in Thirty Minutes or Less" is the best written and performed piece, a stylized mangling of ecstatic Christianity with expert mugging by Carolyn Defrin and Brendan Farley. And I'm still shaking my head at the punch line of "Einstein's Compass"--how it all fits together is very much up to the viewer, as program notes suggest. Nevertheless I suspect both Lindner and Uffish have bright futures.

--Brian Nemtusak

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