In-Betweens

In-Betweens," the new drama by Bryan Goluboff, shows promise in its first act, setting up an interesting mix of offbeat characters and relationships. But the second act fails to deliver as it races to a climax, sprinting away from the audience at the very moment it should be moving closer. Goluboff shows lofty ambition, apparently setting himself the goal of creating a "Streetcar Named Desire" for the '90s. In place of Stanley and Stella he offers Eddie, a muscleman sewer worker, and Peanut, his transvestite brother, who share a rent-controlled Bronx apartment inherited from their mom. In place of visiting sister Blanche is Ray, just out of prison where he did Eddie the very big favor of not telling the authorities about a murder he saw Eddie commit.

With:
Cast: Tony Cucci (Eddie), Andrew Miller (Peanut), Mark Hutchinson (Ray), Carolyn Baeumler (Lolli).

Eddie, who does not like to let anyone into his and Peanut’s peaceful, if not exactly happy, home, reluctantly agrees to let Ray sleep on the couch until he can get his own place. By way of helping him to do that, Eddie introduces Ray to Lolli, the neighborhood slut (and a twisted stand-in for “Streetcar’s” Mitch), who may be able to turn Ray on to someone who can give him a job. Eddie’s hurry to get Ray out is but one of many indications, some subtle, but most not, that he wants Peanut all to himself. The plot is clearly heading toward Eddie’s incestuous homoeroticism busting loose, which it finally does with tragic results.

But undercutting the impact of this tragedy is the rush toward an ending. While the events make dramatic logic, they do so perfunctorily. What must happen does (as befits a tragedy) but the action is completed in a burst of messy melodramatic violence instead of clean precision. The ending seems almost arbitrary.

The play also lacks resonance of language. This is kitchen sink realism and it cries out for some pearls of proletarian poetry, but not even the sensitive Peanut ever says anything that functions beyond the level of story-telling.

A good cast cannot be faulted for the play’s shortcomings. Andrew Miller is particularly effective as Peanut, nicely balancing the character’s tenderness and self-confidence. Mark Hutchinson is exuberant in the pivotal role of Ray, although it is sometimes hard to believe he comes from the upper-middle-class background attributed to the character. Tony Cucci is a strong Eddie and Carolyn Baeumler a subtle Lolli.

Director Dante Albertie seems to have been watching too much MTV, creating an unfortunate tendency on his part to pump up the volume on some turgid music to make sure we know the characters are experiencing some deep, dark emotions. He enlists his lighting designer Ken Moreland in the effort, calling for flashing lurid colors to further underscore the torment. Set designer Beowulf Boritt has created a believable apartment, but has gone out of his way to make the proscenium look as if it had been blasted by a wrecker’s ball. Probably intended to show that the fourth wall has been torn aside to expose these lives, the device is as unnecessary as the extra music and lights.

In-Betweens

NEW YORK

Production: An Evangeline Morphos, Judith Resnick, Joan and Richard Firestone, Frederick M. Zollo, and Mara Gibbs presentation of a play in two acts by Bryan Goluboff. Directed by Dante Albertie. Sets and costumes, Beowulf Boritt.

Creative: Lighting, Ken Moreland; sound, Hector Olivieri; production stage manager, David A. Winitsky; associate producers, Peter Burtscher, Barbara Goldfarb, Richard Kornberg, William O'Boyle. Opened February 18, 1997, at the Cherry Lane Theater. Reviewed February 18; 180 seats; $35 top. Running Time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Cast: Tony Cucci (Eddie), Andrew Miller (Peanut), Mark Hutchinson (Ray), Carolyn Baeumler (Lolli).

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