Jihaad Filmworks, at the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse.
Israel Horovitz has always depended on the kindness of actors. So if you don’t happen to have a Richard Dreyfuss (who appeared in the first production of Horovitz’s long-running off-Broadway hit Line) or an Al Pacino (who originated the role of Murph in The Indian Wants the Bronx) your production is in real trouble. Such is the case with this lukewarm show.
Essentially about two juvenile delinquents who, for no apparent reason, decide to harass an innocent Indian waiting for a bus, The Indian Wants the Bronx depends entirely on how scary and out of control Murph and Joey become. Here we never for a microsecond fear for poor Gupta’s life–the fresh-faced actors who play Murph and Joey, Ihsaan Jihaad and Chauncey B. Raglin-Washington, are never that threatening, though they seem more than a little uncomfortable in their gangsta-rapper clothing. (The “concept” of this production is that Murph and Joey, usually taken to be tough, white ethnic types, are black gangbangers.)
All of the weaknesses of Horovitz’s play–the repetitive dialogue, the lack of a story, the reductive explanation for Murph’s violence (his sister recently died)–are glaringly obvious here. And the play’s one great strength, the opportunity for an angry actor to really exercise his chops, goes unexploited.