Mix “Glengarry Glen Ross” with “Glen or Glenda” and the result might be something like David Ives’ “The Red Address.” A tough-talking drama that mixes business sharks, blackmail, cross-dressing and murder, “Address” wants to say something about the nature of manhood but totters as awkwardly as a burly actor in red satin heels.
The play begins almost as a parody of David Mamet’s “Glengarry,” with two obscenity-spewing businessmen lamenting the arrival in town of a new (and possibly mob-connected) competitor. E.G. Triplett (Kevin Anderson) is the owner of a successful milk distributorship in an unidentified town, but his day and his business are about to go sour as his faithful (though jittery) associate Dick (Ned Eisenberg) suggests that the mysterious new rival named Driver has underworld ties.
Those fears are heightened when Driver (Jon DeVries), a cowboy-suited cutthroat with a limp and a menacing Southern drawl, arrives at Triplett’s office with a $5 million deal. “You can go into business with me,” Driver says, “or you can go out of business.”
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The play soon takes one of several abrupt turns as the wheeler-dealing gives way to a bedroom encounter between E.G. and his loving Southern belle of a wife named Lady (Cady McClain). Attempting to soothe her man after a trying day, Lady purrs, “Would you like to go to the red address?,” the couple’s code for cross-dressing. Heels, lace panties, black nylons and a red dress brighten E.G.’s mood considerably.
But is E.G.’s secret safe? Driver begins dropping hints that he knows what’s what, setting E.G.’s personal and professional lives on a collision course. Then another of the play’s turns: a violent murder that has absolutely nothing to do with the previous plotlines, described in gratuitous detail in a monologue by a character who has no other relevance to the play.
The point of the brutal diversion is as unclear as the rest of “The Red Address.” The business intrigue comes to naught, the cross-dressing dilemma takes an even more melodramatic (and unconvincing) turn, and we’re left to wonder what all this angst has been for. Director Pamela Berlin draws good performances from the cast (although every last accent seems forced), but even an actress as appealing as Welker White can’t give credibility to some of Ives’ hokier dialogue. As a hard-boiled (and ludicrously judgmental) prostitute, White has to say “buster” and “pal” while dropping references to Lucretia Borgia.
For a play that prattles on about fate and inevitability, “The Red Address” goes nowhere. “What am I hurting by wearing this?” asks E.G. in his red frock, the likeliest answer being Ives’ growing reputation, buster.