Paul Grellong’s Manuscript is lighthearted summer entertainment so weightless it almost floats off the stage. Sure, there’s a lot of talk about the rigors of literary creation, drug addiction, and revenge, but at its heart this Gen Y drama is a Brooklyn Heights-centered episode of The OC, by way of Cambridge.
Pablo Schreiber from HBO’s The Wire and Lords of Dogtown, Marin Ireland, of the Royal Court’s excellent national tour of Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, and Jeffrey Carlson, who did Broadway’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?, dive hungrily into the juicy intrigue, with perhaps more skill and nuance than the material deserves.
Schreiber and Carlson play childhood friends David and Chris, now Ivy Leaguers back home in Brooklyn Heights for a break. When Chris brings along his new girlfriend, Elizabeth — who unbeknownst to him has something of a past with David — secrets slowly reveal themselves. When an important literary manuscript falls into their hands, moral dilemmas calling into question individual character come rolling in like Sisyphean ethics lectures. In the tradition of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap, you’ll either be glued to your seat, or looking at your watch.
The audience I saw it with seemed definitely to lean towards the former, as the three leads bit into the dialogue with wit and fervor. There’s a whiff of misogyny about the denouement — perhaps I’m being a little too sensitive—but it’s hard to take anything espoused onstage too seriously. It’s just boys and girls having a little fun — with a little moral reckoning on the side.
Daryl Roth Theater, 101 E. 15th St at Union Square