BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
"There is truth in wine," as the wise old Latin saying goes, and then there is the reeking mess caused by ridiculous alcoholic consumption in "A Perfect Future."
Opening on Thursday at the Cherry Lane Theatre, David Hay's new play represents a trite idea ruined by hackneyed plotting and dreary writing.
Set in a classy living room, the contemporary situation involves a little reunion dinner given by Natalie (Donna Bullock) and John (Michael T. Weiss), a wealthy Manhattan couple in their 50s, for Elliot (Daniel Oreskes), a dear pal of their halcyon university days who's visiting from California.
Joining them at the last moment is Mark (Scott Drummond), John's considerably junior business associate who the executive erroneously thinks just might be gay Elliot's dish.
As everybody begins to imbibe John's expensive wine, we hear their stories. The older trio enjoyed 1970s times high on free love, drugs and very liberal causes. John has become rich using Marx in his corporate dealings with the Russian oil mob. Elliot remains a steadfast social activist. Childless Natalie now is a depressed documentary maker who can't finish her Rwanda project.
They toast. They dance. They swill. Then Mark, a nice preppie, tells his progressive hosts a racist joke.
In the ensuing drunken confrontations, we learn that John really is a bigot and how his lovely marriage to adulterous Natalie stinks. Oh, and how Mark once actually dated a black man. During these tiresome confessionals, more than a dozen costly bottles of vino are rapidly consumed onstage while the actors demonstrate their varying abilities at appearing shocked, befuddled, angry and blotto.
This pointless exercise in revealing the awful truth lurking behind deceptive appearances is staged with a semblance of reality by Wilson Milam. Designer Charles Corcoran's set is handsome but does not convey the couple's wealth. The result turns out to be a 90-minute waste of your time and the actors' kidneys.
"A Perfect Future" continues an open-end engagement at the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.telecharge.com