The Monogamist 

THE MONOGAMIST, Workshop Theatre, at A Red Orchid Theatre. Some men are both too self-conscious and utterly unaware. Christopher Kyle's title character, Dennis, is a poet in the midst of a midlife crisis who professes the power of monogamy. Then he catches his wife Susan, a feminist professor, in bed with Tim, a shallow slacker. Discarding poetry for the alleged truth of video, Dennis takes up with Sky, a clueless would-be feminist who's pro-choice but voted for Bush.

A "relationship playwright" as playful as John Patrick Shanley but twice as deep, Kyle deftly contrasts the Xers' volatile mix of stupidity and spontaneity with the boomers' analytical self-absorption. For no clear reason he's set the play in 1991, as if the gulf war could put anything in perspective.

Michael Colucci's too long staging (next April the play receives its Equity debut from American Theater Company) belabors the obvious in this familiar saga of sex, lies, and videotape. He doesn't build momentum from scene to scene; worse, his glum, introspective portrayal of Dennis exacerbates the energy deficit. Dana Gilbert brings down-to-earth immediacy to Susan, while Nicole Weiner's empty rebel Sky and Robert Tobin's likable lout Tim are made-to-order twentynothings. Elizabeta Basich has the thankless role of a nasty, pretentious cable-show hostess who exploits Dennis's sorrows.

--Lawrence Bommer

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