February 22, 2016

Your appreciation of “Smokefall,” an enigmatic comedy-drama by Noah Haidle about several generations of an eccentric family, may boil down to your reaction to the dietary choices of the character Beauty, a 16-year-old girl who subsists on tree bark, newspapers, shoes, rocks and earth. All washed down with a nice big cup of paint. Oh, and for much of the play, she doesn’t speak a word. If you find Beauty to be precious or preposterous — surely a cup or two of Sherwin-Williams would be enough to sicken even a healthy teenager, let alone one scarfing down shoes and dirt? — “Smokefall” may have you grinding your teeth; should you respond warmly to this kind of dark whimsy, you may find yourself enraptured. Another litmus test might be the character called Footnote, played by the gifted Zachary Quinto (of the “Star Trek” reboot and the revival of “The Glass Menagerie”). Footnote lets us in on Beauty’s dietary regimen, and wanders the stage throughout the first half of the play, providing numbered annotations on the background of the family, who lives in Grand Rapids, Mich. Referring to the Colonel, Beauty’s grandfather, Footnote tells us that “lately, he has become convinced that his entire life is another person’s dream.”