The basic plot has distinct echoes of the Bible and Greek drama. The son, Jan (Rafael De Mussa), who for 22 years has been living in an unnamed land, returns to Europe to visit his mother (Ellen Crawford) and his sister, Martha (Wendy Allegaert). He comes with his wife, Maria (Erin Cherry), and decides not to announce his true identity. This is unfortunate, because the two women, who run a lonely inn, murder their guests and rob them for survival. The only other character is the mute manservant (Stuart Rudin), who in the final scene is Camus' stand-in for God.
Downstairs in the Flea's black box, the only touches of humanity on Michael Moore's set are rows of gleaming white teacups and saucers. In Jack O'Brien's straightforward translation, the language has a formal abstraction, giving the actors no easy task in presenting Camus' arguments. This Horizon Theatre Rep production, under the direction of Alex Lippard, might have gained more credence by honoring this formality and clinging more to the play's Greek roots. Due to Lippard's approach, both Allegaert and Cherry are at their best only when they can let rip in their emotional crises. It is left to Crawford to provide the tone of formal, weary resignation the play demands.
Presented by and at the Flea Theater, 41 White St., NYC. Nov. 2–22. Thu.–Sat., 9 p.m.; Sun., 3 p.m. (No performance Sun., Nov. 8; additional performance Mon., Nov. 9, 7 p.m.) (212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, www.theatermania.com, or www.theflea.org. Casting by Cindi Rush.