NEED, Half Cocked Productions, at the Space. Writer-director Arik Martin’s new black comedy reminds me a lot of Quentin Tarantino–before he began taking himself too seriously and became a bloated celebrity-machine joke. Some of Martin’s staging of this tale about hoodlums, junkies, and just plain weirdos recalls classic Tarantino setups. But what really makes the play hum is Martin’s sharp, funny dialogue, along with his ability to give even the most outrageous characters an underlying humanity without condescending to them. Glenn (Jeremy Glickstein) is determined to go cold turkey for three days–a sort of trial balloon for lasting sobriety. His best friend and fellow junkie, Scottie (Dan Ramberg), provides moral support and helpfully consumes the last of Glenn’s drugs and booze. Scottie’s loudmouth dealer, Morris (Gary Sugarman), invites himself to the party, as do a couple of other guests, with chaotic and violent results.

Martin balances the farcical and menacing elements with a sure hand (no easy task in the minuscule confines of the Space), and despite some occasional dead air, his cast mostly hit on all cylinders. Sugarman’s strung-out know-it-all nearly steals the show, but Glickstein and Ramberg bring surprising subtlety to their relationship. Dieter Frank’s original music (with lyrics by Glickstein and J. Scott) provides a driving, desperate rap-metal sound track for the proceedings.

–Kerry Reid