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The Disorientation of Butterflies at Uncovered Theatre Company | Theater review

This flyweight musical about a young woman’s depression could use some serious therapy.

Photograph: courtesy of Uncovered Theatre Company
The Disorienation of Butterflies at Uncovered Theatre Company

If The Room writer Tommy Wiseau and anti-psychiatry crusader Catherine Bell ever teamed up to write a depression-themed musical, it just might look and sound something like this fractionally competent and wholly ridiculous effort, first produced for the 2011 New York International Fringe Festival. That collaboration might not be a bad idea, actually. The plodding dialogue would be about the same, but at least Wiseau’s penchant toward inexplicable plot twists would keep the action moving.

Tennessee playwright Alaska Reece Vance’s libretto, on the other hand, establishes a plain-as-dirt premise and stays put: Jessie (Katie Cheely), a recent M.F.A. graduate, is sad. She’s going to die one day. Unable to convey the severity of this realization to her dutiful husband or loving family, the 29-year-old turns her anxiety inward, cutting her arm, writing the word alone in shaving cream on her bathroom mirror and, in one of Butterflies’ silliest moments, attempting to cut her throat with a Bic razor (if she thinks that’ll do that job, I imagine she’ll be just fine). Concerned but seemingly unfazed by serious signs of depression, her mother repeatedly balks at the idea of talking to a doctor: “Do you really think you need to?”

Yes. Clearly. Despite the good intentions of Uncovered Theatre’s bare-bones production, Jessie’s character never develops beyond a brooding head case, and Nathan A. Schmidt’s Ambien-laced score provides little relief.

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