Just in time for America's crucible electoral moment, when everyone is wondering about people they don't normally wonder about—whites in California thinking about blacks in

North Carolina, Massachusetts Daughters of the American Revolution thinking about Florida immigrants—Annex gives us a piece of theater about the breadth of the American spectrum.

Eating Round the Bruise, by New Orleans–based writer Barret O'Brien, is a series of monologues from frustrated Americans. One is a Southern hobo in a Northern city looking for a patient ear and some change—she's a maimed machinist who's one-quarter Cherokee. One is a newscaster who can't stop giggling about a plane that crashed because its occupants were too fat. One is an angry airline passenger ("I'm a frequent flyer and I've got something to say!"). The monologuists, Shanna Ridenour and Chris Bell, trade off. Ridenour is capable, though she suffers from the bad actor habit of the forced laugh between lines when she should just be quiet; she also lets her hands fly around when she should just be still. Bell is better: His most affecting monologue is in an internet- dating video that spills into him telling the story of seeing his wife cheat—"she was on top, going wild"—with his best friend, while he watched, unnoticed. Bell tells the story quietly, gracefully, brokenheartedly, with the lights low. It is a masterful performance.

The rest is entertaining but not crucial. Bell as a frustrated, Howard Zinn–loving high-school teacher on the day after the 2004 election, both actors in an elevator quietly pining for each other but unable to bridge the gap of silence—they're slices out of the current American consciousness, placed on slides and slid beneath a microscope. recommended