If last year’s rerelease of 1975’s The Passenger felt like the ultimate adaptation of an unpublished Don DeLillo novel, it’s because the film resembled a template for his books: urbane and mythic, a circuitous and cryptic death trip. The new Game Six, from a DeLillo screenplay, has an anonymous indie look, but with its absurdist cab ride through gridlocked midtown, airborne toxic disaster, ruminations on personal and public history, and baseball fetishizing, it’s like volume one of DeLillo’s Greatest Hits. DeLillo’s stylized dialogue, part brow-slapping smartitude, part beautiful nonsense, finds an ideal mouthpiece in Michael Keaton. As playwright Nicky Rogan, he gives every line just the right spin: He describes a fellow writer, now half crazed, as “someone who sits in a small, dark apartment eating soft, white bread.” Rogan’s new play, a deeply personal venture, is opening on the same night of a climactic Red Sox–Mets game. Meanwhile, a dreaded critic (Robert Downey Jr.) girds himself for his assignment in his toiletless hovel, while the lead actor is having memory problems due to a parasite in his brain, a bug contracted in Borneo or perhaps Burma. (“Why are we blaming the third world for our parasites?” someone muses.) For a Greek chorus, there’s a radio reporter delivering hilariously unhelpful traffic updates spun into glum meditations (“Birth, death, walk, don’t walk”). Despite a late-inning swoon of pat emotional generosity, Game Six is a gratifying playground of high-wire language.
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