The Adventures of Nervous Boy

Gene Frankel Underground. By James Comtois. Dir. Pete Boisvert. With ensemble cast.

WEB HEAD Marc Landers, left, gets online with Rogers.

WEB HEAD Marc Landers, left, gets online with Rogers. Photograph: Aaron Epstein

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5

Occasionally, a shoestring budget can be just the thing to pull a show up by its bootstraps. In James Comtois’s The Adventures of Nervous Boy, director Pete Boisvert seems to have kept his costs right around the 50-dollar mark. Aside from a line item for body paint (events get pretty racy), this is a show that only barely outspends its subtitle, A Penny Dreadful. All the thriftiness, though, means that Comtois’s dry social satire has to deliver its punch with deadly efficiency—unlike every other company, it isn’t coddling the audience with working lights.

Nervous Boy (Mac Rogers) isn’t exactly an outgoing success. He wonders at New Yorkers’ insistence on whining about their stress (“Don’t they just work and run errands?”), while suffering from a lurking, nameless dread. He tries to get excited about people—dithering between telling his friend Emily (Rebecca Comtois) that she is either a waste of space or his one true love—as the background fills with violent happenings. Here, Gotham is a dark city seen through a darker lens: The louts are actual zombies and drug dealers aren’t figuratively diabolical, they literally sport horns. Despite topical jokes about cell phones and one kickin’ fight scene, Comtois & Co. are mining in Gogol’s vein: They may make us laugh, but that’s what happens when keen-eyed city dwellers tickle a seedy underbelly. — Helen Shaw