MISSING PARTS, NeoFuturists. The Neo-Futurists kick off their prime-time season with Sean Benjamin's new work on the discontinuity of time and identity. But though the writing is occasionally quite clever and the four performers (including Benjamin, who also directs) are winsome, the show ultimately feels rather hollow. Set in a vaguely authoritarian and hermetic black-and-white world, Missing Parts is an existential Mobius comic strip employing familiar devices and themes. Time shifts, actions repeat, and the actors step in and out of one another's roles. The characters clean guns, fiddle with screwdrivers, add items to a list of forbidden phrases ("please," "thank you," most words ending in "-ion"), and answer philosophical questions. ("What separates us from the animals?" "We cook our meat. Hope.") Overall the effect is like watching a Laurel and Hardy film scripted by Samuel Beckett, without the underlying pathos or painful wit of either.
But there are charming moments and performances, particularly Noelle Krimm's doe-eyed waif, given to using her hands to illustrate her words, and Andy Bayiates's self-assured none-too-bright guy. Phil Ridarelli's voice-overs boom with the faux enthusiasm of a home-shopping-network shill, and the accompanying player-piano sound track effectively captures Benjamin's No Exit nickelodeon world. But as a disquisition on life's nonlinear possibilities, the script feels both overfamiliar and undercooked.