The House of Lily, Steppenwolf Theatre Company. It takes only a few speeches for us to realize that the three characters here are not talking to one another but to themselves–and that soliloquizers tend to reiterate phrases significant to them and leave genuine information unarticulated. But the real problem is that playwright Lydia Stryk isn’t talking to us: The House of Lily isn’t so much a play as a poem scored for three voices.

The dominant voice is that of Lily, a self-assured feminist given to long harangues on How Things Ought to Be. Her proletarian girlfriend, Gina, accuses her of being a softie underneath all the rhetoric. But Lily doesn’t come to terms with the past she’s been trying to escape until her aged father–a man on the edge of senility, so he has an excuse for talking to himself–begins to call her by her long-deceased mother’s name.

Director Curt Columbus and a durable cast–Martha Lavey as the ambivalent Lily, Amy Warren as the pragmatic Gina, and Gary Wingert as the fading patriarch–make a valiant effort in this world premiere to transform their monologues into a semblance of conversation. But the distance engendered by Stryk’s introspective tone and the actors’ propensity to speak in ponderously measured rhythms, as if delivering lectures, put a stop to any sympathy we might have mustered for their characters.

–Mary Shen Barnidge