Waterwings, at Cafe Voltaire.

Arnold can’t find a high-paying job and blames the baby boomers. Melody misses her martyred father, and Cathryn misses her estranged mother. Laurie was a homely teenage nerd until she danced with snakes. Merilee is haunted by the smug phantom of her husband’s ex-wife. Punk’s father doesn’t understand why Punk’s band has such a disgusting name. Bobby became an actor because he loved risk, and Robert a monk because he didn’t.

Playwright Wayne Crome says that the monologues that make up Waterwings “began as a series of audition pieces that would not be silenced”–a rather grandiose claim considering how generic many of them are. And their flaws have been compounded here by superficial one-note interpretations with too much or too little emotional intensity. The exceptions are Lisa Rothschiller’s sweetly seductive snake lover Laurie and Pam Guio’s ghost-busting Merilee: both of these stories are quirky enough to provoke our interest and give their performers something to work with. Punk’s story, like Arnold’s, is little more than the setup for a punch line, but Shane Hendrix rescues Punk with his personal charisma and the scorpion tattoo on his shaved head.

Three out of eight might not seem like a winning score, but the gleeful grotesqueness and ironic humor of the three sparklers (and a few others that may improve as the performers settle into their roles) more than compensate for the rest.