"Edward Gant's Amazing Feats of Loneliness!" delivers an hour of smart, insightful comedy before sliding into an academic debate about the value of theater as activity. Though this is disappointing, we have the consolation of being introduced to the work of Anthony Neilson, a promising playwright I hope to hear more from in the future.
The play is set in1881, when Edward Gant and his acting troupe take the stage to dramatize a pair of tales about loneliness. In the midst of the second, a company member breaks character, refusing to participate in what she feels is inconsequential amusement. The debate she unleashes escalates until Gant kills himself.
The cast—Ian Hopps, Serra Naiman, Brandon Cusak, and Geneva Hollman—are all deliriously funny. They are abetted in their foolery by Michael Saarela's sure-footed direction. Each playwright must find his voice. Neilson hasn't yet, but he's tantalizingly close.
Presented by 99 Stock as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St., NYC. Aug. 10–16. Remaining performances: Sun., Aug. 12, 6:45 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 14, 3:30 p.m.; Wed., Aug. 15, 4:15 p.m.; Thu., Aug. 16, 7:15 p.m. (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.