Liquid Gold, 5-lb. Test Productions, at Profiles Theatre. Less speculative than most science fiction, Jeffrey Raymond Dainton’s new drama portrays a not-too-distant future in which drastic changes in climate have caused an infestation of bloodthirsty poisonous spiders.

In one sense Liquid Gold presents a fairly standard postapocalyptic scenario, and Dainton doesn’t bother to mask his fondness for the likes of H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein. But this play manages to succeed in ways that other attempts at presenting science fiction onstage have not. For starters, Dainton doesn’t pad his dialogue with unintelligible scientific jargon; his characters’ speech reflects their everyday desperation, ignorance, and loneliness. Dainton has also wisely opted to keep things as straightforward as possible, ignoring the arachnid menace outside in favor of the threats posed by confining three loose cannons to close quarters.

There are a few instances when all the actors truly click and Liquid Gold induces a terrifying sense of paranoia. But Dainton’s talky script more often saps the strength of his unfolding drama: at two and a half hours, the play could use more than a little pruning. And it’s usually too poorly paced to be anything but feverishly dull: Jessica Kelley’s makeup and special effects and Erin Ellis Gardner’s clever costumes and props can sustain interest for only so long. –Nick Green