42 Riverside Drive, Bailiwick Repertory. For a script that tries to cloak its characters’ most inconsequential actions and motivations in a shroud of mystery, TV writer Michael Carey’s first attempt at a play isn’t particularly suspenseful. Nor is it as dark and brooding as it purports to be: Carey’s Mamet-on-Prozac dialogue fails to add anything more than a veneer of grit and grime to the otherwise sanitized proceedings. In fact 42 Riverside Drive is a fairly straightforward drama that revolves around the same moral dilemmas posed by The Bonfire of the Vanities: what happens when death becomes profitable, and can a person be absolved of guilt?

The play has its moments of nail-biting tension, and it has all the makings of a best-seller: an egomaniacal executive, his pushover wife, a shady business deal worth billions, a dark secret that threatens to tear husband and wife apart, and a mysterious interloper. But Carey’s script is far too talky–words often take the place of action.

Perhaps Carey’s TV writing has adversely affected his ability to maintain a consistent or believable tone, but fortunately the entire Bailiwick cast–and especially Maura Pheney and Joe Dempsey as the constantly bickering parents-in-law–have anchored the play in reality with their multidimensional, passionate performances. Still, Carey’s script remains much like the fat-free food his characters abhor: a reasonable but still plastic and tasteless facsimile.

–Nick Green