Let's briefly talk about two things you never hear in the same sentence: women and movies. Films rarely feature women in leading roles anymore, and when they are on screen it's usually in a rom-com with wedded bliss as the finale's reward. To tell you the truth, the women in my life have hardly anything to do with the women on the big screen.
But there is hope. At least on stage. At least as long as Madeleine George's play Precious Little keeps running at City Theatre ... which I hope is forever. I can't remember the last time I had such a mesmerizing evening at the theater.
To even try to supply a précis for Precious is futile; this is a play about ideas, not plot. It's a play about women: some women, some of their lives, and some of the ways they act and, most especially, interact.
Brodie is a linguist in her 40s who has been artificially inseminated and is in the process of receiving some alarming natal news. Meanwhile, there are a foreign-born mother and her controlling and weary daughter; Brodie's grad-student girlfriend; a few other professional women; and a new female gorilla at the zoo. How these women come together (and fly apart) in this by-turns funny and moving play is where Precious Little lives.
If that's confusing, don't worry about it. Just sit in your chair and let George's ideas and words flood over you and raise you up. Her use of the language is at the same time incredibly economic and hugely expansive.
Anne Mundell (set) and Andrew David Ostrowski (lights) provide the haunting environment for this world. Tracy Brigden's direction has never been better; crafting ebbs and flows and a moving fade-out. Kelly McAndrew plays Brodie, a little rocky at first but warming into this complex role of a woman separated by genius from her own emotional life. Theo Allyn and Laurie Klatscher play all the other characters; Allyn's determination to find and play the laughs is a pretty remarkable thing to watch, and Klatscher's powerful stillness is the perfect counterpoint.
Precious Little continues through April 3. City Theatre, 1300 Bingham St., South Side. 412-431-2489 or www.citytheatrecompany.org