The New Colony touts its second production as a brutally honest exploration of “what really goes on” at college fraternities, and I say, “Thank God.” I was beginning to think the mysteries surrounding this strange, underexposed subculture would go forever unsolved. Fortunately, playwright Linder boldly goes where only several dozen Animal House knockoffs have gone before, and the results may shock you. Among his findings on frat boys: They throw parties; they enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage; they enlist new pledges, whom they submit to sadomasochistic, vaguely homoerotic rituals; they blather on about brotherhood until you’d like to jam forks into your ears; they do not go to class.
What story there is in Linder’s excruciating script follows four freshmen at a university in South Carolina, each of whom wants very badly to become one of the (virtually interchangeable) members of Theta Pi, the swellest, wildest, horse-playingest house on campus. Standard-issue undergrad high jinks ensue, until things suddenly take a turn for the melodramatic. One of the pledges is threatened with banishment from the group, and everyone quite seriously believes this will end his life forever (favorite line: “What was I supposed to do, Todd? He got blackballed!”).
Staged in a large meeting room at the German cultural center in Lincoln Square, Hobgood’s production is a mess, from the over-caffeinated performances to the clumsy use of the space. Having set up playing areas haphazardly in various spots around the room, Hobgood requires audience members to chase down the actors at the top of each scene. Frankly, it’s not worth the effort.