Eric Overmyer is best known for his whimsical use of language, and his Dark Rapture is a modern noir thriller, full of gangsters, secrets, double-crosses, and mistaken identities. Unfortunately, the current production by the Attic Theatre Company, directed by Laura Braza, seems to miss most of the style and danger of the piece.
We first meet Ray (Thomas Christopher Matthews) on a hillside in Oakland, during a night fire that's destroying most of the houses in the area, and possibly his own. He meets a man named Babcock (Daniel O'Shea) on the hill, then goes to check on his own house. The next morning, the house is gone, and so is Ray. Meanwhile, Ray's wife Julia (Victoria Dicce), a burgeoning film producer, is having it on with stuntman Danny (Rich Dreher) in Cabo. She comes home to discover her house and husband gone, along with millions of dollars she borrowed from Lexington and Vegas (Michael F. McGuirk and Ted Caine), who don't trust her (because they work with Babcock) and think Ray is alive and escaped with the money. He's certainly alive, because we see him in Seattle with Renee (Nicole Pacent), a sexy Cuban woman whose father may have killed JFK. Julia, meanwhile, has given $2 million to small-time Armenian thugs Tony and Ron (Dreher and Sam Gooley) who have meanwhile killed a Turkish used-car dealer (O'Shea), so everyone's looking for the money, and they criss-cross the country looking for it. The way the play twists and turns, it's sometimes difficult to keep track of just who knows what about what, but the script is a fascinating ride.
Matthews, as Ray, should be poker-faced, but is simply deadpan without a sense of mystery. Dicce handles the role of Julia with aplomb. Pacent has an elegant sensuality that makes her Renee riveting. Monica Hammond gives a nice performance as Max. O'Shea gives a bizarre reading of Babcock- he always seems to be laughing at some inner joke, which somehow seems appropriate. Sarah Billington Stevens has a memorably amusing scene as a frustrated lounge singer. Most of the cast, however, seem cartoonish when they should be menacing.
The rather ugly set by Julia Noulin-Mérat has a bewildering number of doors for a play which is often set in outdoor locations. Lighting by Ben Pilat is nice, though he exhausts his bag of tricks quickly.
This production frequently felt as though nothing was really at stake- no one was committed. There's a sexy scene between Renee and Ray early in the piece, with her in a negligee and him in a towel- as the scene progresses to them making love, it's obvious that the actor's been wearing boxer-briefs under the towel the whole time, sending the sex scene into absurdity- this production still has its metaphorical underpants on.
By Eric Overmyer
The Attic Theater
Friday, January 22 - February 06, 2010 Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm, Sunday at 3pm (no Sat matinee performance 1/30).
Opening Night: Friday, January 22nd.
The Connelly Theatre
220 East 4th Street (between Avenues A and B)
New York, NY 10003
Tickets $18 for adults, $10 for Seniors 65 and over. There is a $5 student ticket with valid student ID. Tickets are available by calling SmartTix at 212-868-4444, or online at www.theatticpresents.org.
Photo Credit Julia Noulin-Mérat
1. Daniel O'Shea and Rich Dreher
2. Thomas Christopher Matthews and Nicole Pacent