POWER PLAYS: VIRTUAL REALITY, Wing & Groove Theatre. Written by Second City alum Alan Arkin as the short middle sketch in a three-story evening about one-upmanship, the gloomy Virtual Reality seems too long without Elaine May's wittier plays to bracket it. Two operatives, strangers to each other, are in a warehouse planning a mission they know nothing about--and neither do we. As they unpack virtual boxes with mysterious contents in preparation for the arrival of the real thing, they delve deeper and deeper into their own dark imaginations until they play out what might be a tragic ending.
Written to be performed by Arkin and his son Anthony Arkin, the play has been cast here by director Jay Diehl with two women, Alanda Coon and Nicole J. Adelman. But their cool circling and unemotional regard of each other isn't the way women usually go about trying to gain control over other women. Adelman eventually draws us in as she worries over the import of the invisible items in her hands, and Coon plays off her nicely, escalating the tension until the explosive ending seems almost believable.
If only the actors had a little more to work with--after a while we stop caring about what the characters' task might be, and the conflict between them isn't strong enough to sustain our interest over the hour that the play runs.