Plays about men staring down the fuck-you end of the golden 18-34 demographic seem to be cropping up everywhere. But Mark Young’s deceptively slight script goes further than many in what you might call the post-Neveu school of postmacho poetics. Constructed as a boy-talk dialogue in a bar, New Orleans complicates standard early-onset midlife issues by placing its characters in an urban bobo milieu. Two aspiring artists, stymied by the phoniness of both the mainstream and cultural-elite versions of late-capitalist America, try to negotiate the creeping sense that their fiery rebukes have devolved into ego-warding excuses for inaction. The material is harder than it looks, demanding superficially casual, quietly despairing performances, but the actors deliver. Veering between art-scene envy and failed-relationship angst, Erik Hellman does a great job as paper tiger Phil; he’s ably backed by Kevin Stark as wearier, wiser Tim, whose silences suggest he’s ready to move on. Director Anna Bahow does a lot with little gestures, otherwise letting Young’s well-observed conversation speak for itself. a Through 12/17: Thu 8 PM, Fri-Sat 10:45 PM, Side Project Theatre, 1439 W. Jarvis, 773-973-2150, $10, $15 for two drinks and postshow concerts at Poitin Stil (1502 W. Jarvis) after selected performances.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.