In a Dark Dark House
Neil LaBute so rarely writes characters with nuance and substance that, when it does happen, you wonder if it was by accident; perhaps in churning out new variations of the evils people visit on one another at his inhumanly prolific rate, every once in a while a third dimension slips through. At the end of Profiles’ long season of LaBute, mostly showcasing his generic misanthropy, we finally get one of those happy accidents in his latest work.
It’s not that this script strays too far from LaBute’s beaten path and his trademark “shocking” twists, normally telegraphed long before they’re revealed. (Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The foreshadow knows.) But the playwright does have a few new tricks up his sleeve; he zags when you think he’ll zig. The third and final scene is so jam-packed with reveals that we can barely keep up, but at least LaBute surprises us: For once, he tempers betrayal and bile with a sentiment closer to benign.
If it seems as if we’re being oblique, we are. The play begins with Terry (Cox) visiting his younger brother Drew (Fleischmann) at a tony rehab facility; a third character, a teenage girl (Torem), has a creeptastic exchange with Terry at a miniature-golf range. To say much more might spoil this puzzle box of a play. The acting, as is almost always true of Profiles, is top-notch, with Fleischmann credibly sketching a vulnerable, overgrown adolescent, while Torem makes an endearingly quirky teen who’s too smart for her own good. Cox, by now, has this intense LaButean type down pat. As Profiles wraps up its LaBute season, here’s hoping the company, like the playwright, can find some new directions.