the Journeymen, at the Body Politic.

Every writer starts out young. There’s no shame in that. But it is a shame when a writer rushes a play into production long before it’s ready. Such is the case with Matthew J. O’Neill’s pair of one-acts, Guns, Guns, Guns and Small Time, both of which desperately need editing.

Guns, Guns, Guns starts with a comedy-sketch premise: a simple convenience-store robbery turns into a Mexican standoff because everyone–the clerk, the security guard, a yuppie customer–is carrying a gun. But it goes no further. Instead O’Neill indulges in a lot of aimless talk about guns, about the situation, about who should put down his gun first, about whether the security guard is a “fag”–all of which makes the audience yearn for intermission.

Small Time is more complex and interesting, though ultimately no more successful. Taking the yuppie customer from the first play, O’Neill suggests that the holdup somehow corrupted him, turning him from a solid citizen (albeit a lawyer) into the kind of guy who masterminds car thefts and insurance fraud. For 90 minutes we watch him descend into a criminal hell reminiscent of that in Howard Korder’s Search and Destroy.

But O’Neill hasn’t yet learned how to write with the focus or economy of Korder, and Small Time passes with the speed of a drugged snail.

–Jack Helbig