During the '60s and '70s, Li'l Bit's family bestowed nicknames corresponding to genitalia, such as "Li'l Bit" and "Uncle Peck." Still, many things were taboo. How I Learned to Drive, the 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Paula Vogel, is the story of Li'l Bit's confusion during a sexual relationship with her uncle (Jaryl Draper). Her account of this abuse unfolds through the pair's driving lessons--which, paradoxically, grant Li'l Bit (Kelli Mohrbacher) a little bit of independence. Period music helps transport the audience to the years of Li'l Bit's youth. And music helps Li'l Bit leave Peck in the rear view, as she flees using the same steering wheel Peck taught her to master. With her hands at 3 and 9 o'clock, of course. The tiny Stone Soup Downstage Theater holds barely over 50 patrons, meaning you feel like you're in the same car as the two main performers--an uncomfortably close intimacy that parallels their bond. The play jumps between the grown woman's and the little girl's, though not always clearly. Draper emits a subtle creepiness that sits well on his character. The set design, appropriately, is of a curvy road painted on the floor, which ends in a glass-like shattering on the wall. LAURA EASLEY 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., plus 4 p.m. Sun., Feb. 13 & 27. Ends Feb. 27.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 27, 4 p.m. Starts: Feb. 4. Continues through Feb. 27, 2011