4 The Hell Of It: 4 Good Plays 4 No Good Reason (In Under 2 Hours), Red Kite Theater, at Stage Left Theatre. When the folks at Red Kite subtitled this evening of contemporary one-acts "4 Good Plays 4 No Good Reason," I assumed they were joking. But their self-effacing pronouncement proves all too accurate. I can't 4 the life of me figure out any good reason 4 producing any of the plays in this mismatched quartet or, 4 that matter, 4 seeing them in this uninspired, shoddy production. The only challenge 4 a viewer is figuring out which of the 4 is the least excruciating.
One contender is novelist Richard Ford's American Tropical, a mood piece composed largely of monologues by a woman who's committed a crime of passion. But it's so unconvincingly acted that it fails to hold our interest after the first few minutes. The acting is slightly better in Israel Horovitz's oft-produced anticapitalist rant Rats. But since it makes the same point over and over, Rats registers largely as one monotonous wail.
Even fewer redeeming features can be found in the other two plays. Bill Bozzone and Joe DiPietro's Breast Men, about two old buddies whose relationship changes drastically when one of them grows breasts, is so filled with sitcom cliches that calling it offensive or sophomoric gives it too much dignity. And the less said about Edward Gorey's Helpless Doorknobs, a seemingly endless series of pseudoabsurdist nonsense sentences, the better. --Adam Langer