The political and the personal are the equally bright and anguished obsessions in this ambitious but derailed comedy/drama by Lisa Kron, author and star of such multileveled treasures as "Well" and "2.5 Minute Ride." Kron does not appear in "In the Wake," but her quick, subtle mind remains unmistakable.
And for the first half of this nearly three-hour, deftly acted premiere, the nonstop talkative Ellen (a sparkling Marin Ireland) is torn between her love for a good New York guy (the heartbreaking Michael Chernus) and an exciting woman in Boston (the intense Jenny Bacon). All this, and more, is played against furious debate about headlines from the Bush presidency, beginning with the contested results in 2000.
As the relationships unravel, unfortunately, their story and the bigger picture zoom past one another until we are left, I think, with the ludicrous effort to equate Ellen's "blind spots" with wars and Washington mayhem.
As her friends choose supposedly superior paths to domesticity, Ellen seems to get punished for being different and wanting more. The damage she leaves "in her wake" seems like personal evolution. Katrina, it is not.