Playwright Adrian Bewley plays the title role of Scott Erikson in a promising new work that consists of two parallel dramas still in need of synthesis. One follows the political intrigue of a young, vigorous Republican U.S. senator (Bewley) under consideration as the party's candidate for vice president in an upcoming election. A series of scenes depicts his faux-pas-laden appearances on talk shows with various hosts (most played by Sinead McHugh), during a personal meltdown in the wake of his father's death, in which he comes off as inhumanly and inhumanely distant from even the appearance of grief, in a world where appearances largely determine success and failure. The mockery of TV “journalism” is so outlandish, in both the writing and in Dina Buglione's directorial style, it pushes this side of the play into comedy sketches struggling to coexist within an otherwise more delicately chiseled human drama. That drama is the coming out of Erikson, as orchestrated by a Mephistophelean freelance journalist/gay-porn-film producer, Bob Hollander (Ken Lerner), who poses as therapist and acting teacher to the vulnerable pol, whose better judgment has gone haywire. Hollander is really just setting Erikson up for blackmail by filming the “sessions” — psychodrama acting lessons involving attachments to porn actors that grow increasingly erotic. One beautifully telling moment involves a scene partner (Derrick Sanders) — oblivious of Erikson's true identity, having no TV, computer or interest in newspapers — who invites him to his apartment for a romantic interlude. Once there, however, Erikson balks — needing the frame of the “acting lesson” to rationalize his obvious attraction to other men. Aside from the bipolar directorial styles, Buglione stages the multitudinous short scenes handily on Michael Crave's multilevel platform set, and much of the acting is equally sharp. Tricia Donohue convinces as Erikson's chrome-plated, Hillaryesque wife; Robert Keiper and Nancy Peterson turn in authoritative cameos as the next-in-line veep appointee and his second lady; and Lerner's rat-eyed poseur-opportunist has stomach-turning authenticity. Bewley anchors his own play as the increasingly disheveled senator slowly tumbling from his fool's paradise.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thu., Feb. 28, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 1. Continues through March 9, 2008

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