Together, Alone Together, Cypress Group, at Victory Gardens Theater. Ironically, Cypress Group's evening of nine short plays on alienation is every bit as disjointed as the modern world they represent. Moments of brilliance and sublime drama emerge but only sporadically: one can truly say that this quartet of actors arrives at a whole inferior to the sum of its parts.
"Together, Alone Together" works best as an actors' showcase. Pamela Gaye is brave and heart wrenching as the title character in Bertolt Brecht's The Jewish Wife, a woman who must leave her icy husband to protect him. Andrew Leman is spine-tingly chilly as a doubting priest in Peter Barnes's bleak, cynical Worms. And John Judd reveals himself as an actor of uncommon versatility, playing both a trio of witty Brits in three Harold Pinter sketches and a couple of signature Tennessee Williams alcoholics in the witty, dreamy The Lady of Larkspur Lotion and the bluntly devastating Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen. Though Louella St. Ville is shrill and irritating in a pair of overdone Donald Barthelme vignettes about shallow intellectual status symbols, she's magnetic in Talk to Me Like the Rain.
Unfortunately, Cypress Group's forced, awkward pantomimes during scene changes only emphasize the works' dissimilarities. And although Gaye and Judd are masterful as an alienated couple in Pinter's Night, performing three different versions of the scene at the beginning, middle, and end of the show comes off as repetitive and masturbatory. Director John Nicholson and Cypress Group might have been better off doing things the old-fashioned, less ambitious and intellectual way: separating scenes with blackouts and set changes. --Adam Langer