BREAKING THE SWEET GLASS -- Through February 25 at the American Theater, L'Enfant Plaza SW. Call 232-1122.
Considering the number of dramas that have grown out of psychoanalysis, it is only natural that the vogue for family therapy should be represented on the stage. In family therapy, apparently, one looks for repeating patterns and blames them instead of one's parents.
This is the theme of "Breaking the Sweet Glass" by Mark Stein at New Playwrights' Theater, where the repeating problems of parents and daughters in a Jewish family in Milwaukee are aired, with an attempt at even-handedness, on the occasion of the elder daughter's wedding. Family festivals are supposed to be prime opportunities for such free-for-alls.
Unfortunately, this happens to be a banal family. They pick dumb things to fight over, such as whether the younger daughter will play the guitar at the wedding, but what's worse are the underlying hostilities of which these are the sumptoms. At the play's climax, the bride-to-be complains that her fiance is guilty of the same crime as her father, namely always saying he will do "Anything you want, Irene." Her cry of anguish: "Well, I don't want 'anything you want!'"
Okay, kid. Anything you say. But it's not an easy predicament to sympathize with. Nor is it helped by a cast that reminds one of a television family comedy gone sour.
The question seems not so much whether the young couple will finally break the pattern by writing their own wedding ceremony as what's wrong with the young man who wishes to marry into such a family.
But with all that's wrong, it is nevertheless gratifying to see this basically good company in a full-size theater. Although forced into the L'Enfant Plaza theater by problems at its own Church Street headquarters, the company deserves a decent showcase for its generally fine work.