March 17, 2016

There’s optimistic, and then there’s delusional. The penniless matriarch in Mona Mansour’s monotonous black comedy, “The Way West,” a Labyrinth Theater Company production at the Bank Street Theater, definitely falls into the delusional category. Awash in unpaid bills and barely able to gather her wits to declare bankruptcy, she nevertheless tries to buck up herself and her two grown daughters with tales of the fortitude and defiance of the pioneers who tamed the western frontier in days of yore. As portrayed by the always likable Deirdre O’Connell, Mom, as she is known, lives in a largely abandoned housing tract in Stockton, Calif. Her younger daughter, Michelle, called Meesh (Anna O’Donoghue) seems to have moved in, while Meesh’s older sister, Amanda, called Manda (Nadia Bowers), is visiting from Chicago in an attempt to help Mom get her personal finances in order. Trouble is, Mom doesn’t really have any personal finances anymore. Having lost her job at a tire store, she’s merrily sunken into a state of cheerful denial about her insolvency, preferring to unleash another preposterous tall tale whenever her daughters try to jostle her into facing the situation.