TALKING ABOUT GODARD, Curious Theatre Branch, at the Lunar Cabaret. Though references to classics like Contempt and Breathless abound, you’d be hard-pressed to say that Beau O’Reilly’s script is solely a discourse on French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. Not that the play’s title is deceptive: Godard enthusiast Mary Barnes is perpetually bent on bringing the conversation back to her favorite subject. But O’Reilly concerns himself mainly with the dysfunctional codependent relationship that develops between three women–frigid Helen, idealistic Chris, and geeky film buff Mary.

O’Reilly’s command of language is impressive, and he has a real ear for conversation. The cast’s bold, naturalistic performances (in particular, Jenny Magnus’s liquid turn as Helen) are similarly inspired. The play’s uneven conclusion is unsatisfying, but for the first hour or so Talking About Godard is as thought provoking and engrossing as anything to hit Chicago stages this year.

The play is accompanied by a preposterous black-and-white short, featuring a figure right out of Godard soaking in a bathtub and spewing stream-of-consciousness dreck, that gently mocks cinema verite. The detailed apartment set (shared by Ouijar’s production of Marie and Bruce) is equally fabulous. The Curious Theatre Branch has long been hailed as a model of low-budget efficiency; now the troupe has added virtuoso tech work to its already impressive list of accomplishments. –Nick Green