To Have and Have Had Hadley

Dark Porch Productions at Disjecta, 116 NE Russell, 781-6499, Thurs-Sun 8 pm (closes April 20!), $12

A neurotic, obsessive male basket case in my own right, I love the rantings of fellow neurotic, obsessive male basket cases. Woody Allen; Dave Eggers, Charlie Kaufman... the list goes on and on, and I love 'em all. Until recently, I was starting to wonder if there was any limit to my affection for such whiners. Then I saw Stiv J. Wilson's To Have and Have Had Hadley last Sunday, and learned that the answer is a resounding Yes, there is.

Wilson's new play, which he also directs, follows longtime theater critic, Michael Monroe, trying to get back to what he loves: playwriting. The afflicted Michael insists on writing an unrequited love from his college days, Hadley, into the play, in direct violation of his current lover, Amanda's wishes. Slowly, but surely, the world of Michael's play and his real life become entangled.

Wilson has a good thing going writing about a playwright in love who writes about a playwright in love writing about a playwright in love. The meta-threads could have existed on the same theater-is-life philosophical plane as, say, Adaptation. What bogs it down is Wilson's tedious dialogue in which the same themes and conflicts are repeated endlessly. A scene at the end, in which Michael confronts a younger version of Hadley, and then the current version of Amanda, numbs the mind with repetition, with Michael just not knowing what he wants, and not knowing... and not knowing.

The performances here are fine, if a little misplaced. Brian Young is always likeable, but his persona is too relaxed to be a convincing Michael. Why Cari Lynn dons a silly British accent to play Amanda is a mystery (Portland actors should not be asked to do British accents if it can possibly be helped). In a play that is almost completely humorless, Mo Davis adds a refreshing breath of the funny as the sleazy Jerry, though even he's worn out his welcome by play's end.

The great indulgers are self-obsessed, but discriminating. They can determine what anecdotes from their warped little minds will appeal to a widespread audience. Wilson has only half this gift. He's got self-reflection down pat, but needs to pay attention to who's listening. JUSTIN SANDERS