Bad-Ass & The Devil, Half Cocked Productions, at the Space. Arik Martin’s thoroughly black script–which follows a high-strung doctor and a smooth-talking hitchhiker on a tense car trip–is about as nihilistic as they come. Bad-Ass & the Devil isn’t just a cheap excuse for a bloodbath, however. In fact the play’s most violent act, limited to a matter of seconds, is represented by two arresting images: one swift thrust of a screwdriver, one bloodstained T-shirt. What’s chilling here is the cat-and-mouse game that follows, as driver and passenger jockey for power, baiting and pushing each other. Martin seems less concerned with acts of violence than he is with what invariably accompanies them: psychological abuses.

Considering that 90 percent of the play takes place in the cramped interior of a car, Martin’s staging could have been a lot more static. It helps that Gary Sugarman as the doctor and John Wilson as the hitchhiker bring considerable physicality to their roles.

Martin’s script heaps irony upon irony, but the greatest is that the play’s ostensible mystery–whether one of these two characters is a serial murderer–isn’t of much consequence. Everyone in Bad-Ass & the Devil is a complete bastard; the murderer is just the least rotten of them. –Nick Green