THE WOMAN’S GUIDE TO STALKING, at the Playground. Written and directed by Michelle Zlatanovski and Jennifer Anderson, this comic one-act is based on an amusing if twisted premise: a frustrated woman turns to a self-help program, available by mail and advertised via infomercials, that teaches angry, put-upon women to get revenge by stalking their men.

Unfortunately, execution is everything in comedy, and nothing in this messy, chaotic production runs smoothly. The script desperately needs rewriting. The direction is unfocused. The acting is all over the place. Some performers–most notably Zlatanovski herself as the play’s overwrought protagonist–display some comic talent. Others still subscribe to drama-club notions of how to do comedy, screaming, stomping, and otherwise hamming their way through the script, ruining every comic moment they encounter.

The technical side is no better. The props are flimsy–one kitchen table kept toppling over, hurtling from the Playground’s tiny stage into the audience. Likewise sound and music cues are often loud and seem out of sync. The show I attended featured a classic sound-effect mishap: Zlatanovski walked up to a door and pressed an imaginary doorbell. No sound. After a moment she decided to mime knocking–and we heard a loud “ding-dong!” In a less out-of-control play, this moment might have been funny. Here it was sad.

–Jack Helbig