Things We Said Today
Neil LaBute’s new collection of short monologues and duologues (we hesitate to call them dialogues, as each of the pairs speaks more in the author’s voice than in the characters’) kicks off with “Stand Up,” a piece that seems to be the fall of a new leaf for the playwright: a thoughtful, sensitive, downright humanist LaBute. To say we were surprised would be an understatement.
We’ll do the man—and more important, the talented directors and cast of Profiles’ production—the favor of omitting the details, since most of these short pieces turn on a LaBute-patented Big Moral Twist. Suffice it to say that the new, feeling LaBute is a canard. The old misanthropy soon shows its face.
We don’t mean to suggest, as many of LaBute’s critics have, that he’s nothing but misogyny and dead babies (though frankly, he is largely misogyny and dead babies). Profiles’ directors and actors do everything in their considerable power to make LaBute touching; standouts include Thiem’s portrait of a couple in contention (ably played by Eric Burgher and Megan Brown) and Todd Lahrman’s portrayal of a regular-guy Little League coach. But seeing so many concentrated LaBute pieces in quick succession, without an obfuscating gimmick like Autobahn’s car setting, serves only to highlight the playwright’s tics and tendency toward the mundane. Profiles’ production provides laughs and even a stray tear or two, but mostly it illustrates LaBute’s dependency on shock and blah.