It is surely true that too many louts lure too many lasses into bed; where would our literature be without them and their chroniclers? Jonathan Marc Sherman's "Wonderful Time" is about a young lout -- a student filmmaker -- who cheats on his devoted girlfriend and, upon being dumped, has worked his charms on a new target within about a nanosecond. They fly to New York, where he strands her (at his best friend's wedding). Still, she sleeps with him, so seductive is the impact of a night on the town that includes tossing coins in the water surrounding the Temple of Dendur and a long interlude of necking atop the Empire State Building.

It is surely true that too many louts lure too many lasses into bed; where would our literature be without them and their chroniclers? Jonathan Marc Sherman’s “Wonderful Time” is about a young lout — a student filmmaker — who cheats on his devoted girlfriend and, upon being dumped, has worked his charms on a new target within about a nanosecond. They fly to New York, where he strands her (at his best friend’s wedding). Still, she sleeps with him, so seductive is the impact of a night on the town that includes tossing coins in the water surrounding the Temple of Dendur and a long interlude of necking atop the Empire State Building.

The cheapskate didn’t even have to spring for Bobby Short at the Carlyle! As a teenager, Sherman won deserved acclaim for his play “Women and Wallace.” Now just 27, he’s a thoughtful and gifted writer, but he’s in something of a collegiate rut. Or maybe the patience of those of us not in a collegial rut has just worn thin.

Whatever the case, “Wonderful Time” is neither wonderful nor timely. It’s a very long-seeming hour and a half about fidelity vs. wanderlust among the twentysomething set, in which I think we’re supposed to sympathize with an arty guy whose self-involvement could easily be read as something uglier, like maybe real hostility for the attractive young women drawn inexorably to him.

Sherman doesn’t dig that deep, and so “Wonderful Time” is merely as confused and anti-romantic as its antihero. Nevertheless, a dream cast — headed by Josh Hamilton, Anney Giobbe (as g.f. No. 1) and Marin Hinkle (g.f. No. 2) — gives the play a terrific reading, even if Tim Vasen’s staging is as dreary as Henry Dunn’s bilevel set. Other production values are OK.

Wonderful Time

Production

A WPA Theater presentation of a play in one act by Jonathan Marc Sherman. Directed by Tim Vasen.

Crew

Set, Henry Dunn; costumes, Mimi Maxmen; lighting, Jeremy Stein; sound, Aural Fixation; casting, Johnson-Liff Associates; production stage manager, Gwendolyn D. Burrow. Artistic director, Kyle Renick; managing director, Lori Sherman. Opened Jan. 11, 1996, at the WPA Theater. Reviewed Jan. 10; 122 seats; $ 25. Running time: 1 HOUR, 20 MIN.

With

Cast: Josh Hamilton (Linus Worth), Anney Giobbe (Robin, Waitress), Marin Hinkle (Betsy), Silas Weir Mitchell (Ernie, Peter), Daniel Zelman (Clyde).
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