X &Y (Two Working Stiffs) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

X &Y (Two Working Stiffs) 

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X & Y (two working stiffs), Black Forest Productions and Synerdreams, at Angel Island. Seamus (James) Connors, writer and director of this uneven, seemingly unfinished new play, would have greatly benefited from an outside eye in staging it. Set in the "near future" after a nuclear "occurrence," the story is strangely divided between the antics of two graveyard workers and the marital infidelities of the two rulers of this postmodern wasteland. Both plots have been done before, and Connors's writing isn't original enough to shed new light on either. The two graveyard workers, X and Y, wax philosophical, test each other, and fight, in the tradition of Beckett's Waiting for Godot or even Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead; but because no real fear or torment seems to drive their behavior, their rantings come across as childish and, at times, annoying. The brawls between them resemble scene studies in a beginners' physical-combat class.

When we leave the graveyard to enter the world of lust and conquest, Connors gives us silly scenes that might have come from a Feydeau farce if they were sharper and had better comic timing. Perhaps his point is that, even after nuclear annihilation, our rulers can still be caught with their pants down; but as the play stands, the two worlds are not integrated. An intermission after the fourth scene breaks the flow, and there's no dramatic tension to entice us back to our seats. Connors's attempt at a startling ending left me with no feeling whatsoever. --Gabrielle S. Kaplan


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