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Brundlefly Theatre Company, at Cafe Voltaire.

David Higgins's would-be thriller has the formula down pat: throw together some drug dealers, hit men, seedy hotel rooms, strip clubs, concealed weapons, omnipotent gangster bosses, deception, betrayal, lotsa hard liquor and ugly talk about women, and Lou Reed's "I'm Waiting for the Man" playing on the boom box. Since we've seen the prototypes of this genre, however, we're usually several steps ahead of the characters. Even the Grand Guignol climax that would have been greeted in an earlier time by expressions of horror punctuated by stentorian organ music here only reaffirms what we suspected all along.

Further diluting any potential suspense is director Christopher Velazquez's decision to cast three actors who are so similar in appearance and who speak in such identical light, slightly nasal tenor voices at identical seamlessly unphrased tempi that they might as well all be one character. This visual and aural monotony makes it even harder to attend to the narrative details necessary to set up the few punch lines we haven't guessed ten minutes into the play.

Cafe Voltaire is renowned as an incubator for fledgling talent. But acting is more than simply reciting lines: this classroom exercise by the newly formed Brundlefly company is not yet viable.

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