TREATS, Ulysses Theatre Company, at the Shattered Globe Theatre. As an epigraph to his 1976 play Treats, Christopher Hampton quotes Humphrey Bogart’s line from Casablanca about the problems of three people not amounting to a hill of beans. If only Hampton had listened to himself. His love triangle–good-natured bore Patrick, strong-willed cipher Ann, and sardonic bully Dave–crackles with sharp dialogue and subtle dramatic twists: Ann’s living room becomes the staging area for libidinal maneuvers rivaling any military operation. But despite Hampton’s halfhearted efforts to create some sort of sociopolitical context for these Londoners’ foibles–at one point IRA protesters are heard on the street, though they disappear before making any coherent statement–he never gets beyond the insular confines of his characters’ petty predicament. And the fates of three marginally interesting, nominally likable people hardly amount to a bean and a half, let alone a hill.
Ulysses Theatre Company’s production is entertaining enough under Ann Filmer’s workmanlike direction. While the cast haven’t fully exploited the play’s romantic absurdity–Dave’s attempts, while Ann watches, to negotiate Patrick out of his relationship with her fall particularly flat–they sail through the evening at an appropriately swift pace, never getting bogged down in indulgent emotional displays. Everyone could have dug a little deeper beneath the play’s snappy surface, but then Hampton doesn’t offer much to make the effort worthwhile. –Justin Hayford