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The Muscles in Our Toes

  • Theater, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The Muscles in Our Toes. Bank Street Theater (see Off Broadway). By Stephen Belber. Directed by Anne Kauffman. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.

The Muscles in Our Toes: In brief

Four friends at a high-school reunion plot to rescue a pal who's been abducted by terrorists in a dark comedy by Stephen Belber (Tape). The astute Anne Kauffman guides a cast of six—including Amir Arison, Bill Dawes and Matthew Maher—through the Labyrinth Theater Company production.

The Muscles in Our Toes: Theater review by Helen Shaw

Four old high-school buddies—fight choreographer Les (Bill Dawes), shit stirrer Phil (Matthew Maher), accountant Reg (Amir Arison) and quick-tempered Dante (Mather Zickel)—wander around their old choir room, avoiding their 25th reunion. They reminisce, inhale booze, mourn an absent friend taken hostage and plan a retaliatory bombing. You know, basic back-to-school stuff.

In Stephen Belber’s guys-behaving-badly comedy, The Muscles in Our Toes, the writer returns to his cherished motif: dudes yelling. A fugue on boneheaded brotherhood, Toes starts out with a cheery approach to offense but grows laborious when it goes for genuine transgression. Logic holes yawn; the plot (a series of persuasions to idiotic action) lacks velocity; eventually even the dirty jokes don’t make sense. Luckily, director Anne Kauffman, her team—Lee Savage creates a staggering slice-of-life set—and the cast (particularly hilarious Maher and Dawes) do fine work despite overall inertia. The thing takes a sudden breath when drunken wacko Carrie (Jeannine Seralles) briefly blows in, but Belber’s club is closed to girls. In that way, it reminded me of high school: Here, too, I was antsy in my seat 30 minutes before the bell rang.—Theater review by Helen Shaw

THE BOTTOM LINE Bromance goes south in a contrived new comedy.

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