REAL CLASSY AFFAIR, Shattered Globe Theatre, at Victory Gardens Theater. Imagine American theater without the British--we could actually see plays about ourselves. But for whatever reason--a more vibrant scene in London, more generous arts subsidies there, or just plain Anglophilia here--we seem destined to see one mediocre English play after another, all exploring in excruciating narcissistic detail the same dark corners of the British psyche: the vulgarity of the working classes, their latent violence, the inflexibility of the country's class structure.
Nick Grosso's play, which premiered in 1998 at the Royal Court Theatre, is about a gang of twenty-something lower-class toughs trying to live as if they were still 16. Filled with cliches, the piece opens in a pub and ends in a shabby little apartment complete with a perpetually standing ironing board--Real Classy Affair looks and sounds like a pastiche of works by John Osborne, Edward Bond, and Harold Pinter. Grosso may only be 28, but he writes like he's in his 50s and drying up fast.
It doesn't help that the performances are uneven. Steve Key is his usual hot self playing a brutal but ultimately morally centered bully. And Joe Sikora is every muscle and tendon the sexy, thick-headed girl toy. But Brian Pudil doesn't come across as charming or quick enough to be Key's chief rival. Even if director Louis Contey had assembled the perfect cast, however, and established just the right pace, this play would still have seemed thin. --Jack Helbig