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Mixed Blood's Hir Makes for a Thoroughly Unpleasant Two Hours

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Isaac, a meth-addled ex-Marine, has returned home from Afghanistan. Instead of the neat and ordered abode of his youth, he lands in what could be described as a hoarder's starter home.

The grass hasn't been cut in months. Clothes litter every inch of the floor. The front door is impassable due to the junk pressed against it.

While he was away, his father suffered a stroke, giving his mother, Paige, an opportunity to exact revenge for years of abuse. Dad, a once-proud plumber, now wanders the house in a nightgown and Depends.

The person Isaac knew as his sister has also changed. Max has come out as transgendered and now insists on being referred to as "hir" to combat hetero-normative constructs.

Unfortunately, playwright Taylor Mac has opened up this sweeping family drama with a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel, making for a thoroughly unpleasant two hours.

None of the characters are particularly interesting, apart from teenage Max. Jay Eisenberg brings energy and enthusiasm to a kid trying to do whatever he can to find a place in the world. That includes a dream of living on a commune with a group of radical fairies.

Mother Paige has embraced left-wing politics to wreak revenge on her barely cogent husband. She and Max spend their days in art galleries, scouring the internet for information on patriarchal constructs, and probably subscribe to the Noam Chomsky Book of the Month Club.

Paige's rage is barely controlled. She emotionally abuses her children much the same way her husband abused her. Sally Wingert can act the hell out of the most terrible material, but even she can't make this thoroughly unlikable character interesting.

That leaves the burden on poor Isaac, who falls into multiple modes. When he's not puking at the drop of a hat after serving in the Marines' mortuary division, he's offering unconvincing platitudes about the value of home. Dustin Bronson looks the part, but there's no sense that he was ever a part of this family.

Mac's scattershot script and Niegel Smith's unfocused direction eventually make Hir feel like four distinct plays that happened to be performed on the same stage. The most interesting story — Paige's journey from abuse to revenge — gets lost amid questions of gender, sexual identity, elder abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

This critique of progressive politics could have been interesting, but it comes off as "let's laugh at the stupid blue-collar rubes who don't understand the history of gender politics."

The flat presentation is just depressing. Mixed Blood's unique ticket pricing means you could catch Hir for free. But even that price is too steep.

IF YOU GO:

Hir Mixed Blood Theatre 1501 Fourth St. S., Minneapolis 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday Through March 22 Tickets are first-come, first-served; $20 to reserve a seat For more info, call 612-338-0937 or visit www.mixedblood.com