If you never read the program for the Women's Project's We Play for the Gods, you might not guess that it was a collaborative construction. The mild embrace-your-artist-self fantasy operates all of a piece, if a tentative one, and it nips through its tale of a trickster muse as though only one hand were on the wheel. That the piece coheres at all is astonishing, as it in fact had 11 navigators: seven playwrights and four directors. An immense amount of effort has been expended on trimming any potential legginess into something tidy, but it relies so heavily on simple metaphors (is this Committee Brain at work?) that the bonsai-size result registers only the tiniest impact.
Gods does show initial comic facility, particularly when hurling aspersions at the workplace. Poet Susan (Irene Sofia Lucio) has just started temping at a struggling scientific institute, where she is ignored by office manager Marla (Annie Golden), openly denigrated by snappish institute director Lisa (Erika Rolfsrud) and laughed at by the audience whenever she pleadingly mentions her MFA. Lucio, Golden and Rolfsrud all go broad with their characters, but they also enjoy real friction and purpose in their scenes—Rolfsrud (biting) and Golden (grinding) both seem palpably happy to chew up the hapless Susan.
Unfortunately, the play balances equally between these peppery scenes and the rest, which is mostly bumbling conceits (a scientist who can't cry studies tears) and rule-free magic (Alexandra Henrikson plays a blue-haired “provocatrix” messing with the PA system). Things only grow worse as the play marches inexorably toward its artificial climax, goosed along by Henrikson's prank-playing genie. The goddess's insistence that we pay obeisance to the gods—by which I think she means either art or idealism—winds up being irritating both within and without the world of the play. Hey, muse! If you would just stop photocopying your boobs and mucking the play up with ersatz magical realism, people could have actually gotten some work done.—Helen Shaw