Love triangles have rarely seemed less likely or more unwashed than the one depicted in Gregory S. Moss’s Orange, Hat & Grace, a piece of hillbilly eschatology running at Soho Rep. Atop Rachel Hauck’s wonderfully dirty and ramshackle set, Orange (Stephanie Roth Haberle), an elderly settler; Hat (Matthew Maher), a grimy woodsman; and Grace (Reyna de Courcy), a feral girl child, compete for affection and diminishing natural resources. As Hat explains, the end times are fast approaching. “The ground can’t grow!” he says. “The trees all pulp! The animals gone or starved or sick!”
So what’s a nice writer like Moss—whose sly punkplay was produced by Clubbed Thumb in 2009—doing in a place like this? Moss doesn’t seem to have much of a feel for these backwoods characters. Their diction changes abruptly from one scene to the next, and in much of their conversations you can hear the author straining for effect. Only the severe charms of Roth Haberle and the wild-eyed delight of Maher render the dialogue at all credible. Sarah Benson, typically a very talented director, can’t animate this yokel magical realism, which owes a bit to Maria Irene Fornes’s Mud and quite a lot to plain old muck. It’s hard to tell what these characters most require: delousing or a script doctor.