Adam Rapp knows his alpha-male degenerates. In his new play, a thirtyish book editor named Davis samples an Amsterdam prostitute. Then he offers his friend Matt the following learned appraisal: “She’s fuckin’ solid, bro.”
There’s something refreshing about Davis, and the unreconstructed whiff of post-collegiate Murray Hill he brings to the stage in Red Light Winter. The frequently profane, occasionally graphic play about two old friends and their shared hooker has rich characters, finely tuned writing, and laughs. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always have plausibility, or a satisfying payoff. Still, Rapp’s depiction of late-adolescent male bonding, as well as a couple of broken hearts, suggests he may be a tougher Lonergan, a LaBute with more soul—a playwright with real talent.
He’s also one hell of a director, drawing wonderful performances here from Lisa Joyce, who’s beguiling and forlorn in her New York debut; Christopher Denham, who, as sad-sack playwright Matt, is darker and more compelling than I’ve ever seen him; and, of course, downtown stalwart Gary Wilmes. He’s so good as the soulless Davis, you can practically taste his cologne.