“Much Better” presented by Really Really, a new Seattle theatre group

Poor Ashley (Alysha Curry), life isn’t going that well for her, at least she thinks it’s not. In many ways, Ashley is her own worst enemy. She’s not the best at fulfilling her responsibilities. Reality seems to elude her, replaced instead with fears. The most mundane subway ride could be a murder waiting to happen in her mind. But then her coworker Morgan (Ali Lawrence) tells her about a new medical procedure called “Neuroclear.”

Neuroclear is reputed to “make you the best version of yourself.” Just as a facelift takes what’s there and reworks it to make it beautiful or young, Neuroclear will take your not-so-great personality and emotional issues and make you outstanding. Think plastic surgery for the personality. After a visit to Dr. Keith (very well played by Lamar Legend)” Ashley signs right up.

Gradually she changes. Now she gets to work on time, learns the meaning of “moderation,” loses the constant fears. But in the process she seems to have lost herself. As she learns, almost too late, there’s a price for everything, including a changed personality.

Director Henry Nettleton and his scenic designer Angela Alvarez work wonders with a pared down set design. The characters move easily from home to work, from indoors to outdoors, and to various other locations with the simplest but most evocative props and furnishings.

One significant problem for me with this production was the sound level. I had a hard time understanding all of Alysha Curry’s lines. And I guess it goes without saying that, when you can’t understand the main character’s lines, you’re at a disadvantage.

The play, however, raises a serious question: When does one cease to be oneself? It was a semi-finalist at the 2017 O’Neil National Playwrights Conference, and the playwright Elisabeth Frankel has won a number of other awards.

Through Sept. 2 at 12th Ave. Arts, 1620 12th Ave., Seattle, Wed. through Sat., 1-800-838-3006 or www.really-really.org/much-better.

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