Snakebit, Profiles Theatre. New York actor David Marshall Grant writes plays that rise to the performers’ occasions. Catnip to the reliable Profiles ensemble, the characters in Snakebit engage in clean, juicy clashes as suited to defining character as they are to hooking the audience.

The play contrasts two best friends and the woman whose affection they share. Jonathan, a driven New York actor hoping to break into movies, visits childhood pal Michael, a gay social worker, in LA. Michael just broke up with a user boyfriend who dumped him for a younger man with the same first name, and it turns out that Jonathan’s boundless sense of entitlement is alienating his wife, Jenifer. Grant adeptly suggests that these very different guys both need Jenifer to keep them real–and that Jonathan’s propensity for manic action counterbalances Michael’s for passive anger. But ultimately Michael’s real-life heroism counts for more than the pretend courage Jonathan will end up displaying in Hollywood blockbusters.

Joe Jahraus depicts Michael’s complex neediness with quiet dedication, and Darrell W. Cox is just as impressive as the rampaging narcissist Jonathan. Caught in their crossfire, Sara Maddox poignantly reveals the price Jenifer has paid for accommodating Jonathan’s ego. And Jeremy Trager is vivid as a gay space cadet whose supposedly feckless curiosity eventually shows its sinister side.