'Somewhere Fun' review: Not so much

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In 2008, Jenny Schwartz arrived, as if fully formed, on the must-see list of gifted new writers. "God's Ear" was both a family drama about grief and a linguistic adventure in which Schwartz exploited and commented on the inadequacies of everyday language when dealing with the loss of a child.

In her latest work, "Somewhere Fun," Schwartz broadens her lens to include several overlapping stories and, alas, weakens the power of her deeply-original voice with too much nonsensical wordplay.

On the other hand, she and director Anne Kauffman have created a bright offbeat abstraction, a privileged New York world of wonderfully self-involved characters, especially women, who are absurd and joyful and full of terrible sorrow. This includes the deliciously dry Kathleen Chalfant as a dying but superior matriarch who declares such twisted bromides as, "Everything happens for a reason, except anal cancer." Kate Mulgrew is virtuosic as a motormouth real-estate agent who means it when she exclaims, "I'm melting."

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But pairings of similar words -- worrier/warrior, furry/fury, allergic/arthritic -- get annoying instead of meaningful with frequent repetition. It's hard to appreciate these interesting characters when you also wish they'd shut up.

WHAT "Somewhere Fun"

WHERE Vineyard Theatre, 108 E. 15th St., Manhattan

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INFO $30-$75; 212-353- 0303; vineyardtheatre.org

BOTTOM LINE Less fun than we hoped.

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