Theater review: 'The Jammer'

One would think that roller derby plus comic books would add up to more than this flatly drawn sketch of a play.

Two-dimensional characters would seem appropriate to a cartoonish comedy like Rolin Jones's roller derby-themed "The Jammer," off-off-Broadway at the Atlantic Stage 2. And they abound, literally and figuratively, as life-size cardboard cutouts supplement the live actors onstage -- with the latter struggling to bring depth to their flatly written roles. Yet even cartoons find their humor in some sort of commentary on the human experience, however exaggerated or oversimplified. "The Jammer" never ventures beyond its broadly sketched comic book world.

 

While we can see that naive, religious Jack (Patch Darragh) really loves roller derby, his love for his girlfriend Aurora, lost but not forgotten when he follows his dream of glory in the rink, is a matter of faith. It's something we're told but never shown. His enigmatic confessor, Father Kosciusko (Todd Weeks), sometimes pontificating, sometimes down-to-earth, never seems genuine. Jack's loutish teammates are stereotypes, as is oily Bert Fineberg (Greg Stuhr), a television announcer stuck with a recurring, tired joke about his speechless cardboard sidekick's silence.

 

The one glorious exception to the play's malaise is Jeanine Serralles as slutty Lindy,

who seduces Jack. Recently out of a mental hospital and prone to violence if she

doesn't take her pills, she manages to be both over-the-top and firmly grounded at the same time. The other women (Keira Naughton and Kate Rigg in a series of roles) also hold their own. But "The Jammer" skates around and around, never going anywhere.

 

 

If you go


'The Jammer'

Through Feb. 10

Atlantic Stage 2,

330 W. 16th Street

$45, www.atlantictheater.org