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Theater review by Adam Feldman. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (Off Broadway). By Lyle Kessler. Dir. David Fofi. With James Kautz, Nick Lawson, Michael Cullen. 1hr 40mins. No intermission.
The Amoralists are drawn to theater that goes bang, and Collision fits right in their barrel. As the company grows, it has begun presenting work by writers other than its resident playwright, Derek Ahonen; this piece is by Lyle Kessler (whose 1983 thriller, Orphans, will return this spring in a Broadway production starring Alec Baldwin). But Collision’s cocktail of sex, drugs, radical talk and visceral not-quite-realism is consistent with the troupe’s Steppenwolfish house style.
The play’s Pinteresque opening scene depicts the first encounter between two college roommates. Grange (Kautz), a charismatic and sociopathic alpha male, quickly asserts dominance over Bromley (Lawson), an amorphous iota male. Soon, with Manson-like self-assurance, he has adopted others into his makeshift family, first breaking them down and then rebuilding them in his thrall: the nubile, impressionable Doe (Anna Stromberg) and the bitter, tippling Professor Denton (Michael Cullen, his voice a rasp of expiration).
Collision sets its course early, and it’s a creepy pleasure to watch the characters—eventually including a gun peddler (Craig “muMs” Grant)—stomp down the garden path. There is a brisk current of irony in the way Grange’s band of noncomformists speaks in clichés and idées reçues; in the script, their philosophizing about “Humanity” and “Social Conventions” teems with capital-letter generalization. (Even Grange’s posters—depicting the sanctified young-corpse rebels Che Guevara, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Bob Marley—seem to come straight from some Approved Dorm Handbook.) Skillfully directed by David Fofi, Collision is less wild but more polished than most of the Amoralists’ oeuvre to date. With luck, it may draw new admirers into the cult troupe’s orbit.—Adam Feldman
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam