There still a velvet rope around Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho: You’re either welcomed in or excluded by its vapidity, and the guest list is secret. That said, the novel was never meant to be the backbone for a painfully sincere play about peer pressure and campus date rape. It’s amazing you don’t see heaps of sawdust on stage of the Dirty Blondes’ original production, in which Ellis’s edge has been sanded down for a predictable modern-day tale of two collegian assholes, Luis (John Charles Nagy), a strutting jerk obsessed with the book, and Tim (Michael DeBartolo), a wide-eyed follower and monster in the making. (The victimized third member of the cast, Jen Jacob, has little to do but gyrate to “Blurred Lines” and cringe when the moment comes.) The American Play has some squirmy scenes, especially when Tim’s suck-uppery makes a hypnotic match with Luis’s tutelage: “My friendship is a lifestyle,” the latter says, articulating a self-regard that would never work in real life. We’re meant to believe it would, though, and that feels like being lectured. Plays that riff on American Psycho need to have sharp teeth. Patrick Bateman would call this one a laugh riot and then eat it for dessert.—Joshua Rothkopf
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