B/SIDES (FLIPSIDES TO OUR FAVORITE AUTHORS), A Sense of Urgency Productions, at Urbus Orbis. Sometimes a record's b-side is every bit as great as its a-side, but this is decidedly not the case with the three obscure one-acts by David Mamet, Samuel Beckett, and Bruce Jay Friedman on this program. Each one is a mere shadow of its author's better-known better material. Mamet's Yes But So What, about two guys yammering in a bowling alley, is no more than a finger exercise. Beckett's Theatre I, about two bums jabbering in the street, isn't even that. And as for Friedman's The Car Lover, about a dealer and customer shooting the breeze on a car lot--well, how good could the second-rate product of a second-rate playwright be? The play is no Steambath. And I don't mean that as praise.
Still, I'm sure there's more in these slight works than this production reveals. Yes But So What is marred by the fact that Edwin A. Wilson and Ian Harris never quite find the rhythm of Mamet's admittedly difficult elliptical dialogue. And the over-the-top production of Theatre I reduces Beckett's spare, darkly funny play to noise, a tiresome parody of itself. Only The Car Lover is given its due. But how much does an overwritten comedy sketch masquerading as a play deserve? --Jack Helbig