THE RAPE OF NOVA, Billy Goat Experiment Theatre Company, at the Broadway Armory. This awkward, clunky ensemble-created play about a team of superheroes torn between saving the world from destruction and sending one of their traumatized colleagues through rape counseling seems to have capsized somewhere between initial concept and final execution. Plunked down on a set of primary-colored platforms that provide no context, a cluster of comic book heroes--Eclipse, W.A.F.E., Maelstrom, Freedom, and the Doorman--spend most of the evening milling about in hopes of foiling the Puppet's evil plan to overheat the earth's core. The sixth hero--Nova, strongest of them all--can't function after she's raped, leading some of her colleagues to mill about even more before undertaking revenge on her attacker.
The two plots lie uneasily together, and without a clear tone or style this confused affair stumbles forward like an extended skit without a punch line. It doesn't help that the superheroes are sketchily drawn--W.A.F.E.'s superpower seems to consist of stamping her foot, while Eclipse vanquishes his enemies through perpetual petulance. Or that the fight scenes are frequent, hasty, and unconvincingly staged. The play ends so abruptly, before either of the central crises has been resolved, that on opening night the audience sat in bewildered silence for a good minute before offering a smattering of applause.