Battery, Journeymen, at the European Repertory Company

Daniel Therriault's three-person play, about a brilliant but warped electronic repairman, his bumbling apprentice, and the hot babe who becomes involved with them both, is just the sort of piece that attracts ambitious young theater companies. Featuring witty wordplay--Therriault could be David Mamet and John Patrick Shanley's long-lost love child raised in the wild by William Burroughs-- and a story and characters simple enough to be understood by your average vidiot play reader, Battery is just challenging enough to appeal to a young actor's ego but not so challenging as to scare her off.

The problem is that Battery is much harder than it looks. Ther-riault's dialogue must be delivered with a Shakespearean actor's attention to character, rhythm, pace, sound, and sense. When Brandy, the much-abused girlfriend, says at the climax of the play, "Get it! Got it! Good!" the line should be spit out, not spoken in a slow, flat tone as Wendy Avon does here. Likewise when Rip recounts his various sexual adventures to his shy assistant, his heightened poetry should convince us he's the cock of the walk crowing about his conquests, not the puffed-up sparrow Patrick Populorum makes him seem, desperately trying to hide the fact that he spent last night choking the chicken.

Despite occasional moments of brilliance--Avon's costumes, several nicely stylized fight scenes, a genuinely moving ending--little in Elizabeth Garcia's production lives up to Therriault's exquisite script.

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