If sitting in a sight line challenged theatre watching four stoner-losers bring drivel to an art form is your life's desire then you're going to enjoy the hell out of New Theatre's Jack Goes Boating. If, however, you're like me, you're going to sit there not giving a rat's ass about the unlikeable characters on stage.
When Phillip Seymour Hoffman, co-artistic director with John Ortiz of New York's LAByrinth Theatre Company, presented this show in 2007 you can bet they saw a starring vehicle for themselves. And they were right. Too bad they're not working for New Theatre.
Not that the acting and direction isn't okay in this production. It is. But it just isn't okay enough and the actors end up as irritating rather than amusing or entrancing.
Jack (Clint Hooper) and Clyde (Christopher Vicchiollo), two limo drivers, are having a little trouble with sex. Clyde's wife (Beatriz Montanez) has been getting too much and Jack isn't getting any. Until he meets Connie (Aubrey Shavonn) who'll open the gates to glory if only he'll cook her dinner. And take her boating. Well, that's giving it up pretty cheaply. Except Jack can't cook and he can't swim and he's never rowed a boat. And he's just so plain dumb nervously stupid that it beggars belief that any woman, let alone Connie who's scared of men and has just been beaten up on the subway, would give him a first glance, much less a second.
The show opens with Jack and Clyde smoking pot and that seems to be the raison d'etre for the evening. If you've got a collapsed lung don't sit anywhere near the stage as the smoking stops only when all four are doing coke or sucking on a communal hookah. My God, it's the sixties.
I didn't see the New York production, nor have I seen the newly released film, but I'm sure charm and warmth were on view. Not here, unfortunately. What could have been interesting character studies simply leaves a feeling of poor them. Who cares?
Not an easy show to stage, Jack Goes Boating has a swimming pool, an office, a living room, two bedrooms and space for a monologue jammed onto New Theatre's small stage. Jesus Casimiro has done well here and lighting designer Thomas Aratanha Fonseca keeps right up, as does sound designer Ozzie Quintana. Directed by Steven A. Chambers.
Jack Goes Boating runs through October 24 at New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St., Coral Gables. Call 305.443.5909 or visit www.new-theatre.com.