Forget Laureen's whereabouts. Where were the friends of the WPA Theater when the decision was made to stage this inept and sloppy play?

Forget Laureen’s whereabouts. Where were the friends of the WPA Theater when the decision was made to stage this inept and sloppy play?

Perhaps the less said about Larry Ketron’s “Laureen’s Whereabouts” the better. A ghost story and murder mystery with all the believability and emotional resonance of a “Scooby Doo” cartoon, “Laureen” is a particularly depressing affair given its home at the theater that recently staged the wonderful “Jeffrey.” One giant step back for the WPA.

Set in a cabin that might or might not be haunted, in the South Carolina woods where a body might or might not be hidden, “Laureen” brings together four friends who might or might not end up in one another’s arms before their illicit weekend (various spouses were not invited) ends.

Joe lusts for Laureen, Sharon pities Tom, Tom longs for the lost love who might be haunting the cabin, and an obtrusive, mysterious cop keeps annoying everyone. One guess who the murderer is.

Save for a cast that deserves battle pay, everything about this production smacks of laziness. Holes are covered over or left unfilled, the awkward dialogue has a rough-draft feel, and even Edward T. Gianfrancesco’s rustic set — the best element of the production — isn’t up to the designer’s standards.

Director Dann Florek seems satisfied merely to have his actors hit their marks, and supplies not a drop of depth or wit to this dreary tale. The hurried wrap-up isn’t credible on any level, and is welcome only in that it ends the mystery by ending the play.

Laureen's Whereabouts

(WPA Theater, New York; 122 seats; $ 22 top)

Production

A WPA Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Larry Ketron. Directed by Dann Florek.

Creative

Set, Edward T. Gianfrancesco; costumes, Jonathan Green; lighting, Phil Monat; sound, Guy Sherman/Aural Fixation. Artistic director, Kyle Renick. Opened April 7, 1993; reviewed April 6.

Cast

Joe ... Kevin O'Rourke Tom ... Mark Blum Sharon ... Carolyn McCormick Laureen ... Mia Dillon Whitlock ... Scott Sowers
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