No One Will Be Immune, Under Observation, and The New world Order, ClothMother Productions. Given that Harold Pinter begat David Mamet who begat Howard Korder, it’s surprising that ClothMother’s collection of one-acts doesn’t work better. All three pieces deal intelligently with the power of words to alienate people, but none is developed enough to be effective. Watching these bottom-of-the-drawer pieces is like looking at a major artist’s discarded sketches: intriguing more for who created them than for what they are.

Mamet’s No One Will Be Immune is the most successful–a maddening “Franz Kafka meets Abbot and Costello” exchange between an unnamed investigator and a seemingly paranoid man. Cleverly performed by Chuck Stubbings and Michael Spitz under the direction of Matthew Dylan Wilson, this is an occasionally entertaining linguistic exercise that grows infuriating as its cycles of repetition lead nowhere. Korder’s Under Observation–a brief monologue delivered by an obsessive-compulsive woman who rattles on about her infatuation with highways while waiting to see if doctors can “repair” her ailing husband–is diverting but doesn’t go anywhere either.

Pinter’s The New World Order, a giddily abusive conversation between two captors in front of their blindfolded prisoner, is little more than a snippet suggesting language’s power to torture. There’s some darkly humorous irony here, but it’s played far too broadly, recalling Pinter’s early Monty Python-esque sketches. Like the other two pieces, it’s hardly a satisfactory introduction to a major author’s work. –Adam Langer