BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
A credible stage actor in off Broadway dramas like “Scarcity,” Jesse Eisenberg was nominated for an Academy Award as the lead in “The Social Network.” Like his colleague Zoe Kazan, the rising actress whose “Where We Live” family drama was premiered the other week by Manhattan Theatre Club, he also has been trying his hand at writing plays.
Eisenberg’s “Asuncion” opened on Thursday at the Cherry Lane Theatre in a world premiere by Rattlestick Playwrights Theater with the actor-author taking the central role of a geek beyond belief.
A modest four-character comedy that never leaves a filthy apartment in upstate New York, the story regards the rather pathetic Edgar (Eisenberg), a post-college slacker who vaguely maintains a blog and believes that he is a journalist dealing in global social issues. Edgar is especially proud of time he spent in Cambodia.
Edgar rents living space in the dumpy pad from the slightly older Vinny (Justin Bartha of “The Hangover” 1 &2 flicks), who is a funky college instructor given to smoking weed and Afro-centric pursuits.
Their undefined but presumably heterosexual household receives an unexpected guest in the lovely form of Asuncion (Camille Mana, very perky), the new and significantly younger Filipina bride of Edgar’s older brother Stuart (Remy Auberjonois). It seems that Asuncion suddenly needs a secret place to stay for a few days.
After Stuart departs, Edgar leaps to the conclusion that Asuncion either is a mail order bride or possibly a former (or current) hooker on the lam. Edgar decides to subtly interview Asuncion about her sordid world for a freelance piece. All that Vinny wants to do is get Asuncion into bed.
A few days into their “Three’s Company” variation, a crisis occurs when the characters trip on acid and certain truths come to light.
So aside from the poorly-excused reason for Asuncion’s visit, which is never satisfactorily explained, the 90-minute plot offers an okay platform to display a portrait of a loser and weirdo character like Edgar. He is a liberal but he is oddly bigoted, he is educated but terribly ill-informed, he is nice but he’s a jerk.