RUSTY AND RICO, Colored Lights Productions, at Cafe Voltaire. Rusty is a Central Park prostitute, Rico a mayoral wannabe. After professing to love each other, you’d think they’d repair to the nearest hotel instead of lingering to dance under the stars, play childish pranks on alfresco diners, and revel in the specialness of their relationship. But they don’t, and that turns out to be a big mistake. Recalling her girlhood ambitions, Rusty is now ready to play a more aggressive and public role in Rico’s life. As a sign of her new social consciousness, she casts off the gun Rico gave her–one of a matched pair, like their rings and watches–and demands that he do the same. Rico, distressed, declares his piece to be central to his manhood and to their romance, oblivious to Rusty’s hints that there’s only one way for romantics packing firearms to go.
Though it’s a mishmash of adolescent sentimentality and sledgehammer proselytizing, Leonard Melfi’s 1978 commentary on the dangers of Thinking Women might still have something to say to audiences about the conflict between love and conviction. But not in this Colored Lights production. Even under the direction of Terrapin Theater’s Susan Shimer, Shannon Presby as Rico and Clara York as Rusty (dressed in flawlessly coordinated, spotless virginal white and ten-button gloves yet, despite her claim to have been plying her trade in the shrubbery moments before) never become more than two stereotypes who cuddle, cry, and kvetch until the playwright can manipulate them into the inevitable double suicide. Appropriately, both shoot themselves in the crotch. And in choosing a script so flimsy and ill suited to their talents, Colored Lights seem to have followed their example.