"In The Company of Men" (Profiles Theatre): Lacking the LaBute Punch

"In The Company of Men" (Profiles Theatre):  Lacking the LaBute Punch

Profiles Theatre presents the World Premiere of IN THE COMPANY OF MEN.

I’ve seen a number of Neil LaBute’s plays.  His dialogue is riddled with profanity and comedy.  His characters are usually acerbic.  And the drama typically twists and warps unexpectedly.  I’m often left marred for life after a LaBute show.  His nuggets of wisdom ordinarily leave deep tissue bruises.

So, I was surprised  by the surface level of his current show, IN THE COMPANY OF MEN.  It’s about two colleagues deciding to woo and destroy the same girl.  These two men have been recently crushed by girlfriends.  Their heartache solution is a mutual “let’s hurt somebody” pact.  Their target for destruction is a deaf temp.  The premise is dark but sophomoric.  LaBute is known for his shock factor.  Yet, his big reveal this time is some-men-are-dicks.  That’s not news, that’s reality.  And his characters evolve in predictable caricatures like this is an after school special for adults.

Despite a lack of overall urgency in the storyline, Director Rick Snyder effectively builds the tension.  During scene transitions, Snyder uses pounding tribal music to set the-hunt-is-on feel.  The drum beat definitely gives the show an edgy vibration.  Snyder also uses his talented trio to pull us into this cruel world scam.  The dashing Brennan Roche (Howard) rages on about work and women.  Roche plays it perfectly pompous with a side of brute.  He truly is the bad boy the girls go for.  On the other hand, Jordan Brown (Chad) endears as the coerced nice guy.  Showing the most depth, Brown goes from wounded to mad to bumbly to charming to mad.  And the girl getting all the attention is Jessica Honor Carleton (Christine).  Carleton is just lovely as a bright-eyed innocent.  She impressively uses a guttural speaking voice to convey her disability.

In the final scene, Carleton is particularly outstanding in her monologue.  Of course, I have no idea what she said because I was so distracted by the buffoon sitting behind me.  She never broke character as the cell phone in the second row went off FOUR times. I wanted to leave that guy with a LaBute deep tissue bruise.

Although IN THE COMPANY OF MEN is darkly entertaining, it doesn’t pack enough of a LaBute punch for a lingering effect.

Running Time:  Ninety minutes with no intermission

At Profiles Theatre, 4147 N. Broadway

Written by Neil LaBute

Directed by Rick Snyder

Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 5pm and 8pm

Sundays at 7pm

Thru June 30th

Buy Tickets at www.profilestheatre.org

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