THE GRAVITY OF MEANS, Wolfgang, at Breadline Theatre. Chicago's newest theater company has quietly launched itself with The Gravity of Means. More a series of scenes than a conventional drama, it's an appropriate project for a young company--a 90s take on the cruelty of youth written with the episodic energy and wordy rhapsodies of Seinfield and Friends.
John Kolvenbach's darkly comic morality tale introduces us to Peter, a manipulative narcissist who orchestrates then destroys his relationship with his best friends, Alan and Marty. Scott Michael Craig and Benjamin Summers give nicely understated performances as the two friends. Christopher Taylor captures Peter's manic articulateness but never gets beyond cleverness into true menace. Lori Myers brings an able wit to Judy, the love interest who unwittingly triggers Peter's decline and fall. Director Alexandra Harbold has a lot of fun with the play's riffs: the cast's restraint emphasizes the play's sardonic tone. But for the most part the production and script are too bluntly straightforward to offer more than an interesting character study, although one or two scenes combine irony and pathos with remarkable intelligence.
Like Wolfgang itself, The Gravity of Means brings a lot of wit and promise to an interesting idea in progress. Wolfgang's mission statement trumpets a wish for simplicity and "an intense commitment." This solid production shows these aims are nothing to sneeze at.