Stories From New York, Great Beast Theater, at the Boxer Rebellion Theater. Playwright Jason Milligan has more than 27 plays to his name, most of them one-acts. How has he been so prolific? Simple: he traffics in cliches–lots of them, the more worn the better–as you can see in the two short works that make up this evening. The bartender in The Best Warm Beer in Brooklyn is tough, a little stupid, but good-hearted in a Tony Danza kind of way. The sap he becomes enmeshed with is the kind of whiny Brooklyn nebbish Jerry Lewis used to play. The two lunks in Nights in Hohokus talk in comically harsh “Joisey” accents and engage in a rambling dialogue that sounds like warmed-over Mamet.
An even bigger problem is Milligan’s fondness for stories that don’t pass the bullshit test. We’re asked to believe, for example, that a would-be artist seeks out physical injury because he believes great artists have to suffer. It doesn’t help that the Great Beast folks have descended to the level of the material, turning in awkward, unbelievable performances under the direction of Michelle Power. Ryan Biddle La Fleur in particular is shockingly awful as the sap in The Best Warm Beer. Niki Williams and Kate Currier fare better in Nights in Hohokus, though the clever idea of having women play the two snorting, grimacing, crotch-grabbing dudes grows tiresome after a while.