Checking your watch during the first 15 minutes of a 90-minute, one-act play is not a good sign. But there’s little else to do during the long, dull setup of “Ground-swell.” Nothing happens before the arrival of Richard McElvain, who plays the sole offseason guest at a South African seaside guesthouse, so director Daniel Gidron gives caretaker Thami (Jason Bowen) a table to polish incessantly while listening to the imbecilic scheme being proposed by ex-cop Johan (Timothy John Smith).


While playwright Ian Bruce’s commentary is noteworthy, there’s nothing about “Groundswell” that hasn’t already been done. At its core, the play has to rely upon its characters to make it inviting and its direction to keep you interested. While McElvain offers an impressive performance, Bowen is one-dimensional.

Through Jan. 30
Lyric Stage
140 Clarendon St., Boston
$25-$50, 617-585-5678