Thursday, November 17, 2011

Suicide, Incorporated ***

Andrew Hinderaker's interesting but flawed new play is the latest offering at the Black Box, the tiny theater below the Laura Pels where Roundabout Underground presents work by young, emerging playwrights for a mere $20. In it, we are asked to imagine the existence of Legacy Letters, a company that writes farewell notes for prospective suicides. Scott, the soulless boss straight out of Mamet (Toby Leonard Moore), sadistically mistreats his sole employee Perry (Corey Hawkins). Jason (Gabriel Ebert, who made such a fine impression last year in 4000 Miles) applies for a writing job, but has hidden motives which might have something to do with his younger brother Tommy (Jake O'Connor). His first client is the sad sack Norm (the excellent James McMenamin), whose tale is truly wrenching. Mike DiSalvo has a tiny role as a police officer. The simple set by Daniel Zimmerman transforms from a sterile office to Jason's home with the movement of a few panels and a lot of furniture shlepping back and forth by the actors. Jessica Wegener Shay's costumes fit the characters like a glove. Jonathan Berry's direction is unobtrusive. The play may drift from black comedy to melodrama, but it is sufficiently promising to make Hinderaker a talent to watch. Running time: 85 minutes without intermission. General admission.

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