Janet Weakley unraveling
Janet Weakley unraveling

Call It Dead Serious

Nicky Silver is one twisted playwright, and his Raised in Captivity is too much. Now on stage at PS 742 in the heart of Little Havana, the deadly serious, seriously funny black comedy begins at a funeral: After years of not seeing each other, Sebastian and his twin, Bernadette, meet at their mother's grave. That the lady was killed by her shower massage is one of the least absurd touches in Silver's 1995 piece, which also warns of the perils of picking up rough trade on the street, or becoming pen pals with a death-row inmate whose Muslim name is Ruth. A psychologist prone to self-mutilation, a dentist who longs to be painter, and a very precocious baby also turn up. But perhaps the most outrageous surprise is how the whole affair can ring true.

The production by the Baby Factor, a promising actor's collective, is directed jointly by the cast and could have used a single, unifying hand, if only to make sense of the improbably pat psychobabble in the final scene. Still the depth and wit of Silver's little gem are well served. Thom Lacey is perhaps a sweeter Sebastian than one expects, but his timing is impeccable. Jennifer Gomez, after rushing through the funeral scene, begins to relax into the role of Bernadette. Janet Weakley is fine as the unraveling therapist, but then repeats the performance as the ghost of the twins' mom. Kenneth Thompson, as both the convicted killer writing letters to Sebastian and the hustler slashing his throat, is quite a find. This young actor captures Silver's frightening blend of madness and reason. Don't miss him.


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