There's something not quite right about May, the protagonist of Linda McLean's curiously compelling "Strangers, Babies." May's urge to help the "baby" bird that crashed into the window of her apartment is normal enough, but the anxiety that subtly infuses Danielle Levin's performance adds an uneasy subtext to the first scene in the Shotgun Players production that opened Friday.
It's a good idea to stay alert. "Strangers," a patchwork portrait of a woman in five discrete scenes, is an unsettling mystery gradually revealed. If its ending is a bit unsatisfying, the always understated revelations in director Jon Tracy's staging are ever more riveting.
Scottish playwright McLean is a master of subtext, as seen in her unforgettable Bay Area debut "Any Given Day," also directed by Tracy last year at the Magic Theatre. As in that play, she excels in an easy realism that offers up full-bodied portraits of people so familiar we might take them for granted, then proceeds to expose unexpected layers of comedy and dark tragedy beneath their surfaces.
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