“This is my womb,” declares Meg (the excellent Andrea Day), gesturing around the large set, which appears to represent not an internal organ but a normal living room, except for the rack of toys and electronic parts downstage. But the explanation is coming, and a quite clever one it is. Meg is fooling us, though.
This isn’t a play about reproduction, or about “women’s issues.” When Meg’s younger brother Matt (Dan McCabe), with whom she shares the apartment, appears, summoned home from a date because she has big news for him, he fools us too. He’s not here to be the foil or mirror to big sis as she goes through a life change. These two may laugh and tickle each other on the couch and sing along to old Hollywood musicals together, like any affectionate pair of siblings. But they are fooling us. This is no standard family drama.
The cast list itself is a clue. In the standard family drama, a few characters appear, interact, show themselves to us, and then have their sense of security blasted apart by the entrance of a prodigal somebody-or-other. But in this two-hander there can be no Blanche waiting offstage, no Pale. Or rather, there is—but it’s inside Matt himself. And it appears gradually. As Meg prepares to have something new inside her, what’s already lurking inside Matt becomes more evident. With, finally, explosive results.
Playwright Dorothy Fortenberry doesn’t try to teach us a lesson here. Is Matt’s illness an inner demon? From the perspective of those who must live with him—of Meg—of course, it appears that way. But, as he says later on, “Maybe I don’t want to be sane. Maybe sane is overrated.” Eventually he too addresses us directly, as Meg did at the beginning, but picturing the set as a different organ: “This is my brain.” And we’re invited into an astounding depiction of a “sick” mind. Guided by an incisive script and Kel Haney’s daring direction, McCabe’s gigantically physical performance rings like clanging bells, insisting on making us understand, feel what it’s like.
That’s enough plot summary. The arc of this story should be experienced, not drawn in advance. The Red Fern Theatre Company specializes in “issue” plays, with each production raising funds for a related charity. Always a good cause, but with varying levels of artistic success. This one is up there, with last year’s Miss Evers’ Boys, among their best. Go see it! Good Egg runs through Nov. 7 at the comfortable LABA Theatre at the 14th Street Y.