(c) The New York Post

A PICKLE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS By BONNIE SCHWARTZ ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jaye Austin-Williams shares jarring truths in "Pickling."

February 23, 2002 -- Everything you ever needed to know about the risks of loving you can learn from Miss Miss, a hermetic woman who pickles memories instead of beets in rows of glass canning jars.

Miss Miss is the star of "Pickling," a half-hour solo show at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Written by renowned playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, whose "Topdog/Underdog" opens on Broadway next month, "Pickling" revolves around the fears and passions of a woman who has been abandoned by the man she loved and whose mother has died.

During the course of the play, Miss Miss tells her story by holding up glass jar-encased remnants of her two lost loves (bits of hair, a used condom, teeth and gums), taking the audience on her journey as she steps from the protected dark of her cloister of memories into the light of day, where she no longer needs them.

"I think a lot of people feel like Miss Miss these days," said Austin-Williams, the 45-year-old native New Yorker who plays "Pickling's" main character.

"Since Sept. 11, many people prefer to stay in places where they have the illusion of security."

Aside from its unlikely hero, "Pickling" is also unusual in that plays of its length rarely have the opportunity to find audiences in commercial theater.

But "Pickling," directed by Allison Eve Zell, is now seeing its fifth incarnation on a New York stage. (Previous productions were at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre, the Lincoln Center Director's Lab at Riverside Church and at HERE, and at The Mint Theatre).

With each remounting, the director and actress find something yet undiscovered as they sift through the set's cobwebs (basically, a bunch of canning jars and apple crates that Ms. Zell stores in a friend's basement) and the densely written text.

"Usually, only big opera productions can store their sets and keep building on the productions over time," reflected Zell.

"But with this show, we have a unique opportunity to keep building on what we have done before. We never have to start from scratch."

"Pickling" is on a double bill with "Harriet's Return," a play about Harriet Tubman written by Karen Jones-Meadows, starring Denise Burse-Fernandez and directed by Saundra McClain. Both are part of the Cherry Lane Theatre's Alternative 2002 Black History Month Celebration.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays through March 2. Tickets are $15. Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St. Call (212) 727-3673 or visit www.cherrylanetheatre.com.