Ex Man: The Last Stand

LaBute's redemption song strikes the wrong chord

It's become a cliché to complain about the seething misogyny in Neil LaBute's scripts, but the truth is he's created more than his share of despicable male characters as well. In his latest, the pungent little morality play Some Girl(s), the only man onstage is a particularly nasty piece of work, an amoral, manipulative writer who cannibalizes the suffering of others for his own gain. Yet the four women who round out the bill reveal themselves soon enough to be shrill, castrating harpies, so the evening becomes a zero-sum game: Everyone's detastable in his or her own particular way.

The single act comprises four monotonously similar scenes, in four generic hotel rooms from the same chain (the scene changes, indicated by minute variations in Neil Patel's perfectly antiseptic set, earn some of the biggest laughs). The guy, identified in the playbill only as Guy, is soon to be married, but first he travels to four cities to catch up with four exes, each of whom he dumped in variously cruel ways. His motives sound pure—"righting some wrongs," he quixotically calls them—but we know better. I'll admit I found some of the more vengeful, bilious encounters rather fun to watch, but then some people are morbidly drawn to car accidents; that doesn't mean they should be expected to pay for tickets to the wreck.

Suite reunion: McCormack and Tierney
photo: Joan Marcus
Suite reunion: McCormack and Tierney

Details

Some Girl(s)
By Neil LaBute
Lucille Lortel Theatre
121 Christopher Street
212-279-4200

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I'll also admit I was ready to dismiss the cast as a ninth circle of Must See TV hell, yet under Jo Bonney's direction they acquit themselves well for the most part—surprisingly well, in the case of E.R.'s Maura Tierney. Brooke Smith's always excellent, and Judy Reyes ( Scrubs) does what she can with the material she's given. Will & Grace's Eric McCormack plays Guy as Will's evil twin. Though Fran Drescher is painfully miscast as a jilted older college professor, she exerts great effort to avoid The Nanny's nasal whine, often to the point of seeming sedated, but I suppose that makes sense, given her character. None of the characters are even remotely likable or believable, but in LaBute's universe, that's the point.

 
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