With the subtlety of a storm trooper and no urgency whatsoever, "Bullet for Adolf," at New World Stages, takes its time establishing itself as a comic whodunit. Until Act I closes, there's no plot to speak of. Written by Woody Harrelson and Frankie Hyman, "Bullet" focuses on Zach (Brandon Coffey), Clint (David Coomber), Dago-Czech (Lee Osorio) and Frankie (Tyler Jacob Rollinson): four characters writ large and played broad, reveling in their outrageousness but going nowhere fast.
Along with Shareeta (Marsha Stephanie Blake) and Jackie (Shamika Cotton), they attend Batina's (Shannon Garland) birthday party. Her father, Jurgen (Nick Wyman), shows the group a historic luger and, in a pea-soup thick German accent, explains its connection to his father and Hitler. The pistol disappears as the lights go black.
The second-act mystery -- who took the gun? -- grounds "Bullet" somewhat, but Clint, Jurgen and Dago-Czech continue to be cartoons. Jurgen, who earlier extolled Hitler's virtues, such as introducing the two-week vacation, suddenly and inexplicably acknowledges that "Hitler is the wrong man." At least some characters, most notably Jackie and Frankie, start to seem like they're made of flesh and blood. But the comedy remains two-dimensional.
Throughout the play, generous use is made of video projections. Too big and too loud, they nonetheless capture the zeitgeist of the '80s, when the play takes place. It's not a good sign that the videos have more life in them than the live play that they're supposed to support.
If you go
'Bullet for Adolf'
New World Stages,
340 W. 50th St.