| Stage |

Identical Twins Ryan and Austin Jacobs Are Superb in Edward Albee's Newest Play, Me, Myself and I

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The setup: Me, Myself and I, the newest work from Edward Albee, the dean and bad boy of American playwrights, arrives from Edge Theatre and director Jim J. Tommaney, and this is cause for celebration (Tommaney is also a theater critic for the Houston Press). An absurdist play with all the trademark Albee touches (characters speaking directly to the audience, off-kilter sexual tension, bitchy wit, literary fun and games, and a mother from hell), this new play comes with a producer's nightmare built in: a pair of identical twins.

The execution:

Superbly limned by real identical twins Austin and Ryan Jacobs, brothers OTTO and otto have reached an impasse. Well, OTTO has. He's "not the nice one" and sets about getting rid of otto by informing him, bluntly, that he does not exist. "I want to make trouble," he announces to us in the first scene. Mother (Lisa Schofield, a Houston theater treasure) can't tell them apart. "Which one are you?" she asks in a delightfully ditzy fog. Then adds in typical Albee-speak, "Are you the one who loves me?"

She sits in bed in her blue peignoir while beside her, fully clothed, lies her lover, Dr. (John Kaiser, he of the spot-on bitchy delivery). He moved in after Dad ditched Mom and the twins. OTTO says Dad will return one day -- part of his plan to sow discontent -- with panthers and bags of emeralds. Believe it or not, this makes more sense onstage, and is even weirder when both twins are in the same scene.

otto is thoroughly distraught as his identity is stripped away, and even girlfriend Maureen (fresh Lindsy Greig) can't tell who is who, which explains her particularly wicked sexcapade with OTTO.

The verdict:

While this is not one of Albee's classics (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, A Delicate Balance, Seascape), we'll cut him some slack. He is 83 years old, after all, so if it takes a bit of duplication to keep the play chugging forward, that's perfectly acceptable.

Anyway, we have the fun of watching Schofield, Kaiser, newcomer Greig and those fabulous Jacobs boys romping through Albee's playground of the mind, kicking sand on each other and spinning from the sheer glee of it. Albee always makes our head spin. We love his rush.

The show runs through March 18 at Midtown Art Center, 3414 LaBranch. For information, call 832-894-1843. Tickets are $10-$20.

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