THE TRICK, Bailiwick Repertory, and WORKOUT!, Bailiwick Repertory. As Zach, a self-described “unabashed slut” scared to death of getting what he really wants, Joe Waterman exudes boyish charm and enthusiasm in The Trick. Of course, that’s what Zach is good at: he describes his shtick as “Sears catalog sincerity” and says he’s qualified to teach a class in Cute 101. The charm of Perry Laylon Ojeda’s play goes beyond a young chorus dancer’s facade, however.

Part of Bailiwick’s Pride 2000 series, The Trick is a funny, endearing look at one man’s discovery of perfect boyfriend material and his subsequent efforts to escape making a connection. Whether sharing details of intimacy or describing a gym where he cruises for casual sex, Waterman’s Zach is a candid and enthusiastic monologuist. He takes playful approaches to some of the material–going back to the house of a man he’s just met takes on a horror-film edge, while another scene is reminiscent of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. But the play also has its confessional moments. Directed by Scott Olson, The Trick is a truly engaging one-man show: we watch Zach evolve from someone who regularly walks away from “long-term” relationships of three weeks into a man opening up to love and romance.

WORKOUT!, also at Bailiwick, isn’t as successful. Russell A. Glidden and Ron G. Rigby’s play, about two gay friends who come to terms with turning 40 and find new direction in their lives after joining a gym called Workout, is full of unoriginal inspirational insights. A flimsy premise brings together its four characters, who pump iron and plan a porn script–but the comedy that premise inspires is riotous. When this play aims for wit it’s wonderful, but when it aims for more lofty goals it just doesn’t work.

Director Fred Eberle has assembled an inconsistent cast. Liam Bruno and Stefano Mizell physically fit their parts as buff athletes, but their acting lacks subtlety. Cory Krebsbach and Brett Weller Sears are a dynamic duo as aging bosom buddies, singing and gossiping and exchanging barbs, but their talent can’t disguise the after-school-special observations they’ve been handed by Glidden and Rigby. –Jenn Goddu