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Meanwhile, out at Theatre on the Run’s black box, Keegan’s production of Heylin’s Love, Peace and Robbery plays more squarely to the company’s strengths. (It staged Robbery as part of an Irish theatre festival in New York earlier in the fall, but this represents its first domestic run.)
Darren (Matthew Keenan) and Gary (Eric Lucas), both just out of Cork prison, are required to attend a substance abuse program daily. This, along with a pair of court-ordered curfews, effectively prevents them from finding work, so they instead spend their time struggling to reconnect with those they’ve wronged: girlfriends, stepsons, and one particularly put-upon Wheaton terrier.
Bruce Rauscher plays those roles, and several others, with signature brio, and what begins as a pair of well-observed character studies becomes something a good deal more imaginative and intriguing.
Rauscher’s is the showiest part, and he should have no trouble garnering attention for the excellent work he does here, but Keenan and Lucas supply the play with its rueful, clear-eyed quality. Director Kerry Waters Lucas sets a gentle tone that gives us permission to laugh at the two as their schemes proceed to implode, but she never turns them into clowns.
Robbery runs just 90 minutes and clips along at an agreeable rate, but some diffuseness still manages to creep into Heylin’s script. Even well-acted scenes can overstay their welcome, continuing on well after they’ve made their point, and Love, Peace and Robbery contains several. Still, it’s got heart, a strong cast, and finds room for enough police procedure (helped along by Michael Innocenti’s dextrous lighting) to scratch your Law and Order itch. In short, it’s just the kind of heavily spiked eggnog many of us will require to get through a cash-strapped, credit-frozen holiday season.