Two-Man Kidnapping Rule
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
November 3, 2011
Jack (Curran Connor) shows up at his friend Vincent (Duane Cooper) ‘s house to get back a box of memorabilia. They refer to this as the “ex-box” because it holds all sorts of memories of Jack’s ex-girlfriend, Laura. Laura was briefly seen in the area and even kissed Jack, although she is preparing to move to Texas and marry a guy who plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Jack, who once attended New York Giants training camp, is aghast. Vincent, along with their other boyhood friend Seth (Andy Lutz), resolve to take Jack out to party and forget about Laura. They invoke the two-man kidnapping rule: it’s to prevent Jack from hurting himself that the friends can and will go out drinking and hit on women.
It’s New Jersey so there is a long drive to the place of partying. Along the way, Seth announces that he just got engaged to his girlfriend. Jack continues to think of Laura, who in the last two days has suddenly moved away; he believes that he can drive down to Texas, find Laura and get her back. Vincent, who is not relationship-minded, remarks that “fiancée” is spelled a lot like “finance.”
At the club, Jack spends most of his time in the men’s room. First there is a call from a company in Portland that has offered him a much-needed job. Vincent and Seth come looking for Jack. Vincent is romancing someone he only knows by her Match.com name. Seth got drunk and was kissed by a personal trainer; he is weighing the desire versus the guilt should he emerge from the men’s room. Vincent flushes a card with Laura’s parents’ Texas address down the toilet. Jack punches Vincent in the face, then drives his friends home. To the surprise of everyone else, Jack is driving in the direction of Texas. Will he win one of his buddies over to his cause, thus invoking the two-man kidnapping rule? Can he decide if he does (or did) love and trust Laura enough to take this step?
There is some fabulous writing in this piece by Joseph Gallo. The three men (no women appear on stage) have their own code of ethics dating back to their junior high school days. It takes some time to understand their rules, and to see through the lies each character tells the others (as well as himself). There is risk-taking, either in the form of proposing to women or provoking friends to violence in the name of discovering the truth. Even Vincent, who doesn’t care about dating numerous married women (as long as he doesn’t know their husbands) would never break up a friend’s relationship. After all, the friends are lonely, they live in New Jersey, and they need each other.
Director Robin A. Paterson has brought us many-layered characters; his lighting design—especially during the driving scenes—also shows their strengths and weaknesses. G. Warren Stiles’s sets are cleverly simple, and allow for much conflict. Craig Lenti’s sound design includes the men’s cell phone ringers; those can tell a lot about anyone’s personality. Jessica Doherty’s costumes show us the difference between an unemployed former football player, a ladies man, and a guy about to “take the plunge.”