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New York Theater

...Four One-Legged Men!

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Gary Corbin's "...Four One-Legged Men!" is unusual in both its content and its writer-performer. Corbin is an above-the-knee amputee. His solo play consists of four monologues spoken by four very different amputees from disparate backgrounds, seasons, and decades. Corbin is a commanding stage presence, but the production's one weakness is that under William Martin's otherwise engrossing direction, we are always conscious that he is acting.

We are prepared gradually for what it is like to be an amputee. In the first vignette, Corbin has only a slight limp. In the final one, he dances -- incredibly -- without the use of his artificial leg. The stories and characters become progressively more outrageous.

The curtain raiser, "A Day in the Life of Jamie Prince," sets the frame. The title character, a would-be writer, visits his dying foster grandfather in a nursing home for the first time in two months. Jamie hopes to use a new prosthesis as his excuse for not visiting, but instead he claims he has finally written three stories he has always meant to write, which he then proceeds to tell.

"Rainbow," set in the spring of 1959, is the least original: In a battle with his social-climbing wife, a Southerner gets his revenge on her only to find himself in a war over visitation rights to their three-year-old. "I'll Betcha That!" is the funniest: Set in 1979, it tells the story of Miss Scarlett, a gay man who is on his way to a Fourth of July costume party dressed as Nurse Betty when he falls and breaks his artificial leg. He must come to terms with the rivalry that has led to this moment and decide what to do about getting home dressed in drag.

"Waiting for Oz," which ends the evening, is set in the psychiatric ward of a veterans' hospital in the autumn of 1969. In a bravura performance, Corbin plays a delusional Vietnam veteran who recalls his war buddy Oz as he attempts to get through the night. His final dance on one leg must be seen to be believed.

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