Harbor, Great Beast Theater, at Urbus Orbis. Veteran playwright Robert Patrick in Harbor, receiving its midwest premiere by the Great Beast Theater, delivers a wistful elegy to the New York stage. Likening it to the city’s harbor, he suggests it was once a place of great traffic and commerce but is now merely the “ancient relic of a temple of a dead religion.”

Ironically, though, there’s something moribund about Patrick’s two tiresomely self-referential and self-pitying one-acts in this production, as he heavy-handedly discusses drama rather than produces it. Despite some pleasingly idiosyncratic and poetic moments in Harbor, the main characters–a voice-over artist and a blue jeans model–remain symbols rather than characters. Patrick’s point, that there’s something purifying about poverty and an inherent corruption in success, is both facile and trite. In the brief 1970s comedy Something Else, concerning two characters who spring from the author’s imagination and try to define themselves, Patrick turns Pirandellian whimsy into a plodding, self-indulgent Punch-and-Judy show; this long-winded 20-minute essay is less Six Characters in Search of an Author than it is “An Author in Search of Two Characters and a Plot.”

Michael Martin’s stagings are well paced and astutely designed (though on opening night Ryan C. La Fleur tended to mumble). But neither play provides a cure for what Patrick sees as the dire state of theater, only further proof of its irrelevance. –Adam Langer