The Cry Trilogii, Fantod Theatre, at Strawdog Theatre Company. Tolstoy observed that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But not the family members depicted in The Cry Trilogii, a new play by Guy J. Jackson that marks the debut of Fantod Theatre. Here two parents and three teenage children enact the same scene three times, even repeating whole sections of dialogue verbatim. What changes is the source of the misery: in one incarnation the mother abandons her tribe, while in another the father is the runaway spouse. One son may be the abuser in the first situation, the optimist in the second, and the depressive in the third, while his brother and sister likewise change functions. The result is inevitable, however: mass emotional carnage, with the deserters the only survivors.

Since the play’s incidental music is a melange of Protestant hymns, and one of the characters hints at justice through reincarnation, one might assume that Jackson’s play has something to do with religion. But the metaphorical clutter of his quasi-absurdist allegory obscures any overt parallels to sacred myths. And director Kelly Cooper’s cast attack their roles with such enthusiasm that it’s tempting to ignore the play’s nebulous philosophical overtones and just enjoy the cartoon-size mayhem.

–Mary Shen Barnidge