Anyone who sits through Jemma Kennedy’s “The Grand Irrationality” can probably come up with a pretty good reason why this new comedy had its world premiere at the Lost Studio and not 5,500 miles away at London’s National Theater, where it was developed. Kennedy has the legit chops to write six characters that resemble humans, as well as juggle a few plotlines, but interest in her leading man’s love life and family problems severely lags sometime before intermission.
At least there is an intermission. The new David Mamet school of playwrighting puts two actors at a table, and you’re out of the theater in 70 minutes. Kennedy, author of the novel “Skywalking,” is much more old school. She gives her ad exec Guy (Gregory Marcel) a community in which to live, love and fight with his convalescing father, Murray (Peter Elbling); suicidal sister, Liz (Mina Badie); client-girlfriend Nina (Kirsten Kollender); friend-of-his-father girlfriend Vivienne (Bess Meyer); and crass boss Alex (James Donovan), who asks to see his cock in scene two.
That request about Guy’s cock is something of a bombshell, as is the first scene’s introduction of distraught Liz, who pushes a baby carriage complete with crying baby into a restaurant where Guy is trying to woo client Nina before she becomes girlfriend Nina. That’s about it for the “grand irrationality” of the title, which has something to do with astrology and how the planets are all out of alignment and that’s why Guy can’t cope with his live-in relatives, two girlfriends and a job that doesn’t challenge him creatively. In this age of Matthew Weiner’s grand melodrama on cable and Wes Anderson’s cinema of the absurd, young playwrights are going to have to amp it up (and avoid the pretentious astrological references).
John Pleshette can be credited for assembling and directing a capable cast — Marcel, with his Buster Keaton eyes, is refreshingly droll — but there are enough dramatic pauses here to drive through a dozen Ibsen plays. And this may be the first production in which the actors spend as much time moving the furniture between scenes as they do talking to each other.