Theater review: Taken in by ‘The Vandal’

"The Vandal" stars Dierdre O'Connell, left, and Noah Robbins. Credit: Joan Marcus
“The Vandal” stars Dierdre O’Connell, left, and Noah Robbins.
Credit: Joan Marcus

In the name of full disclosure, we weren’t looking forward to reviewing “The Vandal.” The plot centers on two strangers at a bus stop telling each other stories to pass the time, and we suspected that it would serve as a cheap framework to tie together an otherwise unrelated series of 10-minute vignettes, like the off-Broadway equivalent of “Movie 43.”

As was the case with Peter Farrelly’s latest work, we suspected, deep down, that any first play by Hamish Linklater would be produced simply because the man at the helm was well-connected in Hollywood (to wit, one benefit reading of this piece called in heavyweights Alan Rickman and Sigourney Weaver).

So consider us surprised to settle into our seats at The Flea Theater and actually disappear into this engaging plot from its first monologue, delivered by a chatterbox teenager who’s at once likable with the earnest self-disclosure of an Amy Sherman Palladino character. The same fine balance of eager vulnerability that worked so well for Noah Robbins in last year’s “The Twenty-Seventh Man” at The Public Theater also appeals to the obstinate, ornery Margaret (Dierdre O’Connell), who slowly lets down her guard and starts warming to Robert’s quirky requests. First, it’s just to buy him beer since he’s underage — but that leads to a series of small favors that continue to peel away both characters’ layers (figuratively and literally; there’s brief nudity) as they dance ever closer to the teen’s true motives.

But we won’t reveal that here and ruin all the fun. Although all of the characters (including Robert’s dad, played with frank humanity by Zach Grenier) come to exorcise their demons through their mostly true tales, the three never share the stage — but there’s still a central plot that holds their storylines together in a way that never feels forced. “The Vandal” is a tight 80 minutes, with no intermission, and has just reasonably been extended through March 3. The writing certainly has peaks and valleys, but as a world premiere it’s a promising kickoff to what could be a secondary career in playwriting for Linklater. We look forward to his next offering to see if it builds on the momentum of “The Vandal” — no pressure, though.

 

If you go

‘The Vandal’
Through March 3
The Flea Theater,
41 White Street
$45 weekdays, $50 weekends,
www.theflea.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.