VICK'S BOY, American Theater Company. However clever or well executed, a sitcom is a sitcom and seems especially wasteful when it's done live. Playwright Ben Bettenbender's treatment and this production both outclass the material--ruthlessly amateurish blackmail at a huge law firm. But all the attention lavished on the script can't quite disguise its glaring discontinuity. With a first act like a very dark Seinfeld episode and a second that drips with made-for-TV sentiment, this schizophrenic piece cancels itself out, achieving an emptiness less than the sum of its trifling halves.
The company doesn't want for energy or talent--director Richard Shavzin has put together a snappy, shiny, rollicking show, and the slouchless cast generate a wealth of incidental laughs with precisely hyped banter and physical bits. But the better they get, the more they highlight the slightness of the script. And the abrupt if obviously intentional transition from the gruesome fury of the beginning (dominated by the excellent Joe Dempsey) to the cloying finale (made watchable by the similarly solid Cheryl Graeff and Andrew Micheli) is unconvincing. Viewers beware: partial nudity, adult situations, no dramatic weight.