Harcum draws an insanely funny portrait of crazed urbanites, perfectly balancing exaggerated parody with honest characterization. Each is searching for the key to happiness—or at least the absence of stress—through cockamamie theories. Karen insists that cleansing impurities is the answer; Bob believes that giving full vent to narcissism and aggression will do the trick; and Barbara follows her impulses no matter how ill-considered they may be. Alex is just trying to make it through the day without getting beaten up physically or emotionally. Director Aimee Todoroff also employs the right amount of satire and pathos in her staging. The nutty confrontations reach the edge of excess and stop short just before going over the cliff.
Ethan Angelica keeps Alex's indecisiveness from turning whiny and displays a strong facility for physical comedy when enacting a mime sequence. Carrie Heitman's Karen could have been a total bitch, and she's called one by most of the other characters, but Heitman focuses on her desperate search for love rather than her surface bluster. Mel House gives Barbara spice and spark and is especially funny when Barbara suddenly starts screaming curses at her radically feminist mother, who isn't even onstage. Joel Nagle earns yocks as the monstrously egomaniacal Bob. Phineas T. Haricot and Mariko Iwasa are the lovably goofy clowns and provide an entertaining pre-show. "Rabbit Island" is well worth a visit. The run is relatively short, so hop to it.
Presented by Elephant Run District as part of Frigid New York at the Kraine Theater, 85 E. Fourth St., NYC. Feb. 23–March 3. Remaining performances: Sat., Feb. 25, 8:30 p.m.; Mon., Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., March 1, 6 p.m.; Sat., March 3, 5:30 p.m. (212) 868-4444, www.smarttix.com, or www.frigidnewyork.info.