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

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Local

Video: Car crashes into Cambridge store, man arrested…

A Cambridge man was arrested on gun and drug charges after crashing his car into a Massachusetts Avenue storefront early Saturday morning.

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings…

NHL video highlights: Bruins smack down Red Wings in Game 2

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.