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BIG MOTHER, Trap Door Theatre. Ever since Eugene O’Neill’s long day’s journey, playwrights have been penning autopsies of the American nuclear family. Charles DiZenzo takes a stab in his one-act Big Mother, which features a title character who forces her son to lick out cereal bowls thrown on the floor, chases her husband around the room with a whip when not trying to electrocute him with a toaster, and generally ignores the desperate pleas of her infant daughter, who’s so tyrannized by toilet training that she recites an epic poem, “The Heinous Anus.”

DiZenzo lays out this family’s diseased vital organs–the blackened hearts, the overworked spleens, the nonfunctioning brains–but has neglected to dissect the connective tissues that might hold the family together, no matter how tenuously. The characters never relate to one another in a meaningful or even recognizable manner (as much the fault of director Wm. Bullion as the playwright), and they are left with little to do except act out perverse fantasies that change every few minutes, allowing no room for thematic development. Since the family never comes to life, its demise passes without consequence.

–Justin Hayford