"I got the box when I signed with the Giants. I got this and two pairs of shoes." This became the traveling "ex-box" of memories, which necessitated intervention to prevent former college football star and failed pro, Jack, from chasing down the lost love of his life. Joseph Gallo's male-bonding play, Two-Man Kidnapping Rule, about three friends from New Jersey, is a hilarious insight in the typical male ego as it relates to women, sports, beer.... and of course, male friendship. The pact they make is to "kidnap" and prevent the third friend from making poor decisions, hence the "Two-Man Kidnapping Rule."
The play starts with lovelorn Jack (Curran Cooper), who, while obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, Laura (strangely credited as Jennifer Laine Williams but never shows up), knows he could never compete with her new boyfriend, a Dallas Cowboy football player. Vincent convinces Jack to have a night out on the town to get his mind off his problems. In walks the third friend, Seth, and the male trio is now complete. Seth proudly announces his new engagement, and compares the sizes of their.... engagement rings. Reluctantly, he goes along with Vincent's plan for a night out. Tables are turned, however, and Jack tries to "kidnap" the other two by driving to Texas in search of his lost girlfriend. Vincent protests, "Friends don't let friends drive to Texas," and so goes a night of tested friendship, regret, crossroads, and intimate male bonding.
Curran Connor convincingly plays a love-sick Jack, who is clearly distraught, sentimental, and regretful of his life and love choices. According to Vincent, he is "stuck like Wednesday... right in the middle." Connor is mopey and obsessive, but in a charming way, and manages to invoke sympathy in the hearts of the audience.
Duane Cooper as "Vincent" is the male instigator and driving force to keep their lifelong friendship alive. "I love my friends. Friendship is everything," he says. At times too forced and over-exaggerated in his delivery, Cooper could use more natural swagger and bravado to make his character seem a little more believable.
As the endearing "Seth," Andy Lutz is spot-on in his performance. He has perfect comedic timing and delivers his lines with complete ease and naturalness. Instead of being over-animated as so many actors tend to be, he is vibrant and engaging with a natural boyish charm.
The sets by G. Warren Stiles are minimal but unnecessary as the main focus of the play is on the male relationships. Director, Robin A. Paterson, could stand to keep the pacing a little tighter, especially in the Second Act, where it tends to drag a bit.
Two-Man Kidnapping Rule is a fun, insightful play about friendship and male-bonding. Although a little slow and predictable at times, this is a delightful story of brotherhood and male banter that will charm you with laughs and interest. So, grab a beer, kidnap your friends, turn OFF the Cowboys game, and head out to the New Ohio Theatre for Two-Man Kidnapping Rule. You won't be disappointed.
Two-Man Kidnapping Rule is presented at the New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street, New York, NY, in the West Village through November 20. Showtimes are Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm and Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm. Tickets are $18. For more information, call (212) 868-4444 or visit www.sohothinktank.org.
Photo Credit: Ryan Wijayaratne