I'LL BE HONEST WITH YOU; WHEN I WALK into a theater's lobby before a show and find the actors placed about, striking odd poses, my first response is: uh-oh. Perhaps I'm the wrong person to review Identikit, Annex Theater's world premiere combining word, music, and movement. Director Carys Kresny and her ensemble of 13 have "developed" this exploration of human identity and loneliness that begins with those pre-show poses and moves on to include much more groping, twitching and, occasionally (this is Annex), the exposing of body parts.

The show looks good. Much thought went into its isolated light areas and stage pictures (although everything on the three-quarter thrust stage is played proscenium). I'm sure, too, that some of the piece's more clever bits of business and en masse choreography that now seem a bit fuzzy will gain some precision as the show's run continues.

Unfortunately, though some of the performers are likable and, no doubt, talented in their own right, no one displays the specific kind of vocal and physical gifts required to broaden this kind of text, such as it is. There's no snap to the fleeting impersonations, and the ideas with the most potential (singing personal ads; a three-headed dating service advisor) are never sharply realized; the lack of bite makes the actors come off like they're working through something that's really been getting them down. As a result, the evening seems not avant-garde, but rather like a particularly ambitious episode of Zoom, or (for those of you not raised on '70s PBS) drama therapy for earnest adults, replete with cries of "Who am I?" It doesn't help that Kresny has her cast perform as if they're inventing the wheel. Every elliptical phrase, every smirk, every elbow seems burdened by the importance of its mission, and even the silliest moments have a forced whimsy about them.

We are a mysterious compendium of gesture and anecdote, Kresny and Company tell us. That's about where they leave it, though, and about halfway through, I started looking at my watch.

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