The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

Any edge this multiple-character solo had when Lily Tomlin debuted it in 1985 has long since worn harmless, but the writing is as big-hearted, endearing, and long-winded as ever. Terri Weagant channels Tomlin uncannily, down to the squinty eyes, contorted mouth, and downwardly sloping speech of the main character, a bag lady named Trudy who serves as “creative consultant to aliens” and is prone to Windexing her own armpits. Trudy’s bric-a-brac chariot provides visual stimulus for the storytelling, a-jangle with mannequins, birdhouses, clothespins, umbrellas, etc. Soon we are hurtling into about a dozen other lives, which despite Weagant’s impressive character creations are challenging to keep track of. The most developed of these is an idealistic young woman who becomes a wife and mother, then bemoans the good fortune of having gotten all she had wished for. The charm of Jane Wagner’s script is its guileless determination to find wonder in everyday things by seeing them from a different angle. In this, the aliens are most helpful. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Aug. 6. Continues through Aug. 29, 2009

 
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