Written by Noah Mease
Directed by Jay Stull
Despite the likability of its characters, Noah Mease’s glimpse of twenty-something life doesn’t pack enough energy to justify its running time. The fault lies not with the show’s premise: some very good scripts eschewed plot in favor of philosophical discourse. There’s a difference, though, between the art of conversation and mere gab. If this is meant to be a millennial answer to My Dinner With Andre, it falls wide of its target.
Fanboy Michael (Will Sarratt), attaches almost religious significance to the Omega Kids series of comic books (something akin to the X-Men and Justice League). He talks of little else as he pays a visit to a colleague, also named Michael (Fernando Gonzalez) at the latter’s apartment in Boston. It’s a rainy night, and At Home Michael encourages Visitor Michael to stay the night rather than brave the weather. Thus begins what amounts to a sleepover, during which the two young men pass the time chatting, and doing little else. There is some sexual tension under the goofy grins and small talk, but it dissipates as Visitor Michael reveals that neither men nor women seem to have any effect on his libido (Unfortunately, he doesn’t elaborate on this, and audiences interested in the experiences of people who identify as asexual will have to look elsewhere). At Home Michael shares a few details about his bisexuality and a difficult childhood spent in group homes and foster families, sometimes with abusive guardians. The point seems to be that he is able to let his down with Visitor Michael. Yet the divulgences don’t seem to bring about any catharsis, and the two guys, rather than growing closer, soon drift off to other, more mundane topics. The script gets a bit more compelling when Mease takes a more Shavian approach, allowing both Michaels to advance a social argument. Visitor Michael likes the new diversity that permeates contemporary comics culture. At Home Michael is not impressed with what he sees as the token inclusion of a few gay couples and people of color in a medium traditionally dominated by super-white, super-straight male protagonists. Sadly, there are few such beats in OMEGA KIDS’ 90 minutes of colloquy, and we learn little about how the young see the world they’ve inherited.
Director Jay Stull gives his cast few props to work with or activities to focus on, so the actors spend most of the evening exploring myriad variations on the actions of sitting cross legged or reclining on a shag carpet. Sarratt and Gonzalez seem relaxed and natural, and they are appealing to watch for a while. But their talents would be put to better use in a leaner, more purposeful production. Trimmed to a fighting weight, OMEGA KIDS might make a charming one act. At its current length, its packs more superfluity than superpower.
OMEGA KIDS continues through March 25 at the Access Theater 380 Broadway, New York, NY 10013. For tickets call: (800) 838-3006