Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter is not your grandmother’s Off-Broadway theater — it’s a dark, lost-generation tale for modern times. It features full-frontal nudity and the kind of casual off-hand profanity you find flowing out of Williamsburg bars when people have had a little too much to drink.
It’s serious drama though, and a fascinating premise for a play — two American friends holed up in a seedy hotel in Amsterdam’s red light district attempting to escape their lives in New York. They hire a beautiful, mysterious French prostitute for “entertainment” and the three proceed to bounce off one another, their fears and desires slowly revealing themselves. A good deal of talk about literature and the imprecision of language in expressing meaning never manages to divert attention from the purpose for Christina being in the room, and the tension and jealousy turn ugly.
Nothing is as it seems though, and the relationship dynamics shift considerably. When the scene changes to New York’s East Village in the second act you wonder if anyone is who they seem. Lisa Joyce’s portrayal of the mysterious Christina might well be a star-making turn. You find yourself constantly staring at this woman wondering what might be going through her mind as the other characters ramble on about Henry Miller or hash cafés. Rapp has written a tale that speaks about, and to, the generation come of age during the AIDS crisis, the Iraq wars, and the impending 21st century. It’s good stuff.