The games people play

By CAROLYN CLAY  |  October 7, 2009

It is Amy’s mostly music- and movie-inspired fantasies, represented on scraps cut from magazines, that give the play its actual title. Along with photos of Grace Kelly and Clark Gable, these include the title Marc Jacobs frock in which the dead-ended housewife and cocktail waitress might have enjoyed “all the places I’ve never been and all the appetizers I never ate.” At the beginning of the play, which is set in and atop a gray-wood-paneled parlor festooned with the visage of Jesus and the heads of two moose (and which evolves in a series of scenes juxtaposed with direct address), Amy observes that fantasies unacted upon eventually become regrets, but that if you do “seek them out,” you had best be prepared to sacrifice. And how — Noone’s droll if perverse premise, triggered as much by the courage and perils of risk taking as by all-American enterprise and its rules and deregulations, eventually jumps the fence into Grand Guignol melodrama, ending with all four characters, several of them bloody or dead, dancing dreamily to Frank Sinatra.

Included in the BPT program is a long preface by the playwright in which, using the worked and reworked Little Black Dress as an example, he chronicles the hell of new-play development. It’s difficult to tell him how to improve his oft-hilarious, ultimately preposterous absurdist satire when, after three years of filtering suggestions, he clearly doesn’t want more. Suffice to say that, though Noone has been stateside for 15 years, his influences remain Anglo-Irish. If Brendan was his Conor McPherson play, this is his Martin McDonagh one. And at BPT, under Ari Edelson’s direction, it is so well acted by Marianna Bassham, Jeremiah Kissel, Karl Baker Olson, and Alex Pollock that Noone will be able to decide for himself whether he wants to signal a little earlier where, other than a strangely imagined Kansas, he’s taking us.

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