IDOL THREAT, ArtWorx Ensemble, at Angel Island. First staged at this year’s Around the Coyote Festival, Idol Threat is set in a not-too-distant future in which the government conducts an annual lottery for population control. The losers are immediately sacrificed to a mysterious idol, while the winners get to live another year–on borrowed time. In Raffi Kevorkian and Matt Morich’s morbid script, five individuals await the results of the lottery in a run-down apartment, desperately passing the time by guzzling beer, snorting cocaine, sleeping, and screwing. But every second seems an hour, and the more they try to forget, the more they fall victim to their fears and insecurities.

In most instances, grappling with life and death would be pretty heady stuff. Unfortunately, 40 minutes simply isn’t enough time to properly explore the implications of the plot or its effect on the characters: there’s little depth in Idol Threat and even less urgency. Director Max Jones’s blocking is mechanical and unmotivated, and performances as stilted as the dialogue don’t do much to distinguish the play.

Kevorkian and Morich leave too much to be inferred, never fully explaining why these individuals have been grouped together. Instead of responding to the pressures of their situation, the characters find refuge in sex and drugs, creating a sense of security as false as the play’s sincerity. Lacking both emotion and drama, Idol Threat is comfortably numb but deadly dull. –Nick Green