A crumpled raincoat is not the only thing Nathan (David Rasche), in "Warrior Class" at Second Stage Theatre Uptown, has in common with Peter Falk's classic television detective, Colombo. Like Falk, Rasche uses a self-effacing, albeit citified, "aw, shucks" manner to mask the keen intelligence of his character. But Nathan's primary concern isn't justice; it's sheer self-interest.
Dramatist Kenneth Lin gives Rasche plenty to work with: Nathan is a politico helping state assemblyman Julius (Louis Ozawa Changchien) angle for a congressional run. The bad news is that Julius' college girlfriend Holly (Katharine Powell) credibly claims that he stalked her after they broke up. The good news is she's willing to keep quiet in exchange for a job for her unemployed husband.
Lin is quite adept at building detail upon detail, steadily upping our interest. And Rasche's smooth build toward Nathan's ultimate revelation is masterful. The plot's denouement should come as no surprise, yet catches us off-guard due to Nathan's - and Rasche's - inherent diversionary tactics.
But the play has one fairly significant shortcoming: its lack of activity. It's part and parcel of theater that dialogue rules, but here it's talk and more talk, which gets tired -- notwithstanding the quality of what's said. "Warrior Class" is ultimately intriguing, but it could be even more compelling if Lin gave his talented actors some action.
Second Stage Theatre Uptown
Broadway at 76th Street