Alan Hruska has written an ambitious, metaphorical play that attempts to make a point about being trapped in life because of class and unable to escape, with conditions being even worse in the alternative. It treads on Beckett-style territory, but is off-the-wall-flamboyant and directed accordingly by Rick Lombardo with in-your-face, exaggerated acting. The attempt is more interesting than the result, as the play lacks the tightness and synchronized drive needed to rise above good intentions.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some entertaining passages along the way, and the cast members enthusiastically play it to the hilt. Katie Kleiger is Miranda, a feisty, sexy chambermaid, and George Merrick is Elliot, a contentious butler, who work in a mansion ruled by the mysterious Sir (Graeme Malcolm), whose dictatorial edicts are carried out by his haughty, nasty manager Gulliver (Daniel Pearce).
Elliot is attracted to Miranda, who is standoffish with him, and Elliot is jealous, as Miranda is often summoned by Sir for what Elliot thinks is sex. When we see Sir and Miranda together, there is psychological play between them, with Miranda trying to figure out what Sir wants, while he demands that she show new ways to please him. That’s never possible.
When Elliot is summoned by Gulliver to tell him that he is fired, Miranda goes to bat for him, with the result that she and Elliot leave together. Outside the insular world of Sir’s domain, life is chaotic, with destruction, violence and starvation. In their wandering Miranda and Elliot encounter Chester ( William Connell) and his girlfriend Anouk (Talia Thiesfield), and also Felix (Ian Lassiter), a plumber. The jockeying that ensues reflects the raging competitiveness for survival.
It is hardly surprising that when Miranda and Elliot decide to go back to Sir’s domain, they find that their jobs have been taken by—guess who? How the situation is resolved reflects the play’s basic theme.
Despite the colorful performances, the work lacks the sophistication to make us either care about the characters or their plight. It all seems like an exercise in existentialism without the sufficient wit and know-how to succeed on the level needed to fulfill the play’s commendable ambition. At City Center Stage II, 131 West 55th Street. Phone: 212-581-1212. Reviewed February 13, 2017.