Three bachelors lack decency and dimension in this bleak depiction of single male adulthood.
We’ve all heard the old adage that “boys will be boys.” Caroline V. McGraw’s The Bachelors, currently in its Midwest premiere with Cole Theatre at the Greenhouse Theater Center, rakes through the muck of a grungy bachelor pad to remind us that, yes, boys will be boys, and also boys are awful.
The 75-minute “pitch-black comedy” examines the effects of the long-standing patriarchy on three bachelor roommates who, you guessed it, are not good at dealing with women or each other. The result is an unfunny and utterly bewildering surface-level rumination on the many pitfalls of masculinity that neither raises nor answers any tough questions such a premise might seek to provoke. Slow pacing and uninspired dialogue further prevent the absurd plot from achieving anything revelatory, comical, or believable.
One-dimensional Kevlar (Nicholas Bailey), Laurie (Shane Kenyon) and Henry (Boyd Harris) are defined exclusively by their unhealthy attachments to women. Their personal journeys collide on the evening of a ’60s-themed frat party that Henry is determined to attend—never mind that he's a 35-year-old cellular biologist—even as dark secrets bring to light each man’s most shameful behavior. At the play’s climax, we learn that Henry has a woman locked in the attic (though it’s never made clear if she’s actually being held against her will). Laurie wants to free her, but is immediately sidetracked when he’s forced to divulge the sad story of how he recently lost his job after assaulting a stripper during a business trip. The play drags on to its inexplicable end, at which point nothing is solved and we haven’t learned anything about these three guys beyond what we gathered in the first ten minutes.
Perhaps unintentionally, the overarching message of The Bachelors is that men are awful, dirty pigs, and when they’re not awful, dirty pigs, they’re just sad and pathetic. The question might be whether these guys are simply products of a villainous patriarchy, or if their existence is the force that keeps the patriarchal machine running. In the vacuum of McGraw’s poorly drawn story, though, it doesn’t seem to matter. When the moment of reckoning comes and goes in a violent outburst between Laurie and Henry, it changes nothing about them or our understanding of their circumstances. We know so little about where these guys came from that it’s hard to know—or care about—where they might be going.
Cole Theatre at Greenhouse Theatre Center. By Caroline V. McGraw. Directed by Erica Weiss. With Nicholas Bailey, Boyd Harris, Shane Kenyon. Running time: 1hr 15mins; no intermission.