A NIGHT OFF THE COUCH, at Link’s Hall. The characters in the two one-acts that make up this evening acknowledge the role psychoanalysis has played in making them who they are, but unfortunately neither playwright distinguishes between dramatic action and mere therapy games. Edward Allan Baker’s confrontation between siblings in North of Providence is interrupted by bursts of introspective psychobabble, the characters’ misjudgments are inexplicable as anything but plot devices, and a firearm is tossed about so casually we know there’s no danger of it going off. In Catherine Butterfield’s No Problem two women meet at a fashionable restaurant where one proceeds to eat the other’s dinner, bully the waiter, and stomp out in a huff. Ostensibly the play illustrates denial and the relativity of autonomy, but it’s ambiguous enough that director Gillian Geraghty (stepping in at the last minute to play the more dominant character) slyly allows us to consider the possibility of a strategem to avoid paying the tab.

The actors concentrate on the human emotions to be found in this sketchy material, an effort that does much to redeem a flawed but promising first production.

–Mary Shen Barnidge