L’Heure Bleue, TinFish Theatre. French playwright Jacques Tephany takes a stab at a Pinteresque comedy of menace in this 1999 one-act, now receiving its North American premiere in a translation by Loyola University theater department founder Jack Trahey. A young architecture student-construction worker brings home two street dwellers, ostensibly as an act of charity but more likely because he’s exhausted everyone in his social circle with his middlebrow orations on literature, art, and jazz. (Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” is one of too many variations on “blue” in the show.)
Marc Rita’s flat, mechanistic staging doesn’t enliven the wordy script, which needs a delicate hand to keep its rather limited possibilities from being smothered: the well-meaning but smug do-gooder who gets his class assumptions shoved down his throat is a familiar type. As Thomas, the bloviating student, Joshua J. Campbell hits one strident, whiny note throughout, which makes you wonder why the mystery thugs don’t just pitch him out the window. Owen Yen brings a sly edge to the mostly silent Cuneen, and Philip Dawkins as Phillip, the duo’s mouthpiece, earns a few well-placed laughs.
But Tephany stacks the deck too heavily against the hapless Thomas, producing not so much a game of cat and mouse as a predictable, overwrought match between two pit bulls and a yappy Chihuahua.