7 Pounds of Mud, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Athenaeum Theatre. This production of a surreal Beau O’Reilly script scuttles around the borders of pathos and parody as it distorts and romanticizes the path that brought its heroes to live on the street as heroin addicts. Mud (played by the earnest and agile Michele Gregory) is an unlikely partner to the older Jimmy, a distracted James Joyce street scholar (played in buoyant slow motion by Jenny Magnus). Laura Fisher plays Mud’s dizzyingly strange family members as if this day-in-the-life narrative were a psychotic circus; they’re all twisted by Mud’s constant cravings and fantasies as she scores drugs and grieves her constant losses.
The tragedy is played out in literary quotes, in metaphoric journeys into drug hazes, and in tediously narrated action accompanied by gymnastic pantomime. O’Reilly’s script is nicely spare, Joyce’s writing a lush contrast. But the characterizations tumble between realism and abstraction. Awkwardly clever, committed to a disappointingly safe, goofy strangeness, this Curious Theatre Branch production is an avant-garde version of the familiar urban morality tale about the horrors of isolation, a tale told by the increasingly isolated Mud.