The unintended and nervous giggles from the audience during Jake Shore’s Sick City Blues are understandable: Though not sick, the play does leave you blue. Marty (Stephen Heskett) is hiring Ray (Adam Files) to steal an important briefcase from mob boss Sal (Gavin Starr Kendall), but Ray is on edge; among other problems, his accomplice is 17-year-old smart mouth Vinny (Justin Colón). Meanwhile, Mary (Cara Moretto), whose familial ties to Sal lack clarity, delivers a long, teary tale of being discovered by a policeman late one night while lying naked on a beach with a hookup. (The cop, she claims, got way too stop-and-frisk–y.) This makes Sal vow revenge on the cop, but Marty and Ray’s briefcase plan goes into action first, resulting in a successful theft but unforeseen complications. Throughout the play, Shore offers two modes: dialogue exploding with Mamet-style f-bombs, and long monologues festooned in the playwright-director's favorite color, purple. No doubt the audience's nervous chuckles also stem from basic confusion: Why are there two scenes extolling cunnilingus? Why have a molestation subplot only to kill it during the briefcase caper? When Ray finds out what’s in the briefcase, we also learn that Marty isn’t the mob boss we figured he was at the top of play. It’s a twist, all right, but one that's good only for a laugh.—Leonard Jacobs
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