Relations between the U.S. and Germany, though no longer outright antagonistic, remain somewhat awkward: Witness the last G8 summit, when George W. attempted to massage a chilly Chancellor Merkel. International Culture Lab’s Outside Inn, a collaboration between German and American artists, isn’t quite so gauche—but nor is it a natural alliance. For its inaugural project, the Lab commissioned playwright Andreas Jungwirth “to create a text to serve as a vehicle to explore cultural difference”—a distinctly doubtful assignment. Jungwirth obliged with an attenuated thriller about a German civil engineer who witnesses the death of his boss and flees to an Arizona motel.
Jungwirth hasn’t written a play, but instead a series of monologues with a few interruptions. When not leaning suggestively against the stage furniture, the actors stand and directly address the audience, all but ignoring their scene partners. Director Melanie Dreyer further weakens dramatic interest with lots of multimedia effects: She projects endless streams of German and American text—and occasional stock-market feed—against the play’s back wall and lards the scenes with extraneous symbols and images, such as two metal figures that the characters dress and undress. Dreyer seems determined to create a production that telegraphs stylish and sexy; instead, it suggests an inelegant translation. ALEXIS SOLOSKI