Gillian Flynn
November 24, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
director
Jane Wagner
author
Jane Wagner

We gave it a B+

An aerobicizer debates self-actualization through suicide. A yuppie muses over her waning ’60s idealism. A bag lady takes her alien friends on a tour of Earth. Lily Tomlin plays them all. She, in fact, deftly juggles 12 characters in The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, a revival of writer-director Jane Wagner’s ode to human interconnection. It’s like channel surfing through the meaning of life as hawked by a dozen different sponsors, and Tomlin is a charming hostess: energetic, tart, empathetic, and engaging. Which is to be expected — the part (or parts) won her the Best Actress Tony in 1986. And that’s the only problem. The play is a clever ’80s commentary — and it has remained just that. Too often, the reaction is not how true that is but how true that was. Still, even slightly dated intelligence is to be much savored. B+

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