DIRE STRAITS Godart, left and Carradine ride the crazy train.

DIRE STRAITS Godart, left and Carradine ride the crazy train. Photograph: Aaron Epstein

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>1/5

Perhaps the looniest stage failure of the year, Mindgame is dinner theater served with an emetic. On paper, Anthony Horowitz’s psycho-illogical drama—set in a remote asylum for the criminally deranged—is a third-rate knockoff of an Ira Levin thriller. But first-time stage director Ken Russell takes that paper, crumples it into a ball, sets fire to it and snorts the ashes. The end result is sheer fiasco; the audience treats the whole show as a comedy, laughing openly at descriptions of torture and cannibalism and at the sight of a tied-up woman pleading for her life.

The plot is a creased and faded map of twists and turns. Dr. Farquhar (Carradine) is the head psychiatrist at the institution—or is he? Mark Styler (Godart) is a writer who has come to interview a famous serial killer—or is he? Nurse Plimpton (McNenny) is a nurse named Plimpton—or is she? (The fact that she makes her entrance in a skintight latex outfit and a bright-pink rave-girl wig takes some of the mystery out of that last stumper.) Since every supposed reversal is telegraphed endlessly in advance by Russell’s kitschily inept staging, the play manages to be at once mundane and bizarre: in every sense, insanely dull.

SoHo Playhouse. By Anthony Horowitz. Dir. Ken Russell. With Keith Carradine, Lee Godart, Kathleen McNenny. 2hrs 20mins. One intermission.