Last season, Craig Wright wrote a beautiful paean to male bonding called Lady, a sincere, stirring one-acter that chronicled three men (magnificently played by Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, and David Wilson Barnes) on a hunting trip, whose disparate politics and beliefs eventually get the better of them. I guess it was too much to hope that lightning would strike twice in two seasons in the very same space, but it shouldn’t have been too much to ask for a play where people spoke to each other instead of hollered like they were trying to hit the back row of Radio City Music Hall. Wright’s latest play Blind uses Oedipus as a model to, one supposes, update the tale (though having a guy in a t-shirt and people saying “fuck” doesn’t constitute a hell of a lot of updating) of the unhappy queen Jocasta (Veanne Cox) having a most unusual sexual life with Oedipus (Seth Numrich), her son who broods more than Holden Caulfield stuck in a room of malcontents. And a deadpan Maid (Danielle Slavick) is on standby to witness their heinous acts, while secretly shtupping the handsome young king.
Played out in a dark red room (hmmm…wonder what that signifies) with an ominous black bathtub in the middle—used for no other purpose really than for Cox’s utterly gratuitous full-on nude scene at the outset—the production is shockingly inane, by people who should all know better. Numrich is hopeless as the whiny young king; half the time his outbursts (and muscled bod) seem more apropos for an episode of Gossip Girl than a classical text, and Slavick never makes any sense of her underimagined role whatsoever. Cox, maybe because of her natural authority, fares best here, though her performance seems devoid of much imagination, something director Lucie Tiberghien can be accused of in spades, her direction lacking even in the smallest of exchanges. Here is a tragedy told with absolutely no momentum, leaving one to silently ponder how fun the very same play might have been if it had gone super-camp (Charles Busch and Jackie Beat first crossed my mind), and for all anyone knows, maybe it’s possible the overheated banter was meant to be funny after all? It’s a mystery.
Blind is now playing at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (224 Waverly Place) in New York City and continues until March 21. Schedule: Mon, Wed-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm. Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission. For tickets, click here.