Posted by: sergius 12:15 am EDT 04/16/17

"Who has a story?," someone asks near the end of Annie Baker's sly puzzler of a play, THE ANTIPODES. The same question could start the play, too, since the subject is stories. And time. And civilizations. And six or seven other things. Baker's got a lot on her mind here and, while the play isn't readily coherent, it's provocative and engaging because Baker has a terrific ear for contemporary speech and because she's funny. In someone else's hands this material would quickly collapse into a heap of pretensions, but, because Baker is as amused as she is serious, you stay the course with her. Maybe Joan Didion got it wrong. Maybe we don't tell ourselves stories in order to live; maybe we live to tell stories. Either way, stories are what we have to get us through even if, as Baker wonders, all of them may have already been told. Some may find this play maddening--it's two hours of bafflement--but it's also daring and truly strange. Still, its characters are recognizable and, most crucially, compelling storytellers whether they're reporting or imagining experience. The cast is uniformly great and the all-around-the-campfire conference room staging is just right. Baker's plays are genuinely surprising. THE ANTIPODES has no dramatic incident to speak of, but it's oddly stirring nonetheless.

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