I would like to propose a moratorium on the character of the "wacky sister." This moratorium would also extend to wacky neighbor, wacky mom, and wacky best friend from college—any female character to whom the adjective "free spirited" could be applied.
In Allison Moore's Collapse, produced here by Third Rail Repertory Theatre, the Wacky Sister (Stephanie Gaslin) is trotted out to provide some comic relief in the tale of a marriage coping with a series of challenges—foregrounded by the PTSD suffered by David (Jim Iorio) as a result of nearly dying in a bridge collapse. Wacky Sister is indicative of the problems with this show as a whole: As Moore investigates the very real, very timely uncertainty of knowing your world can fall apart at any moment, she packs her script with elements that are utterly ungrounded in reality. (Other examples: a drug deal, an impotent sex addict, and a case of mistaken identity involving a man named Bulldog.)
There are upshots to this show, including production design that's no less impressive for being extremely literal: The struts of a bridge frame a stage made of up broken pieces of road, while the creaking, rumbling sound design creates the genuinely unsettling impression of a world falling apart around our ears. Plus, as David's wife Hannah, Rebecca Lingafelter offers a grounded and relatable performance as a woman desperately struggling to keep her life together. It's refreshing to see a piece of theater that directly addresses the uncertainty of our current economic climate—it's too bad Moore had to dilute the trenchant timeliness of her subject matter with cartoonish theatrical clichés.