NEW YORK (AP) — Sometimes on a cold, foggy night, waiting for a bus outdoors, things just seem spookier than normal.
This scenario plays out naturally in "The Vandal," a suspenseful new play by Hamish Linklater. The Flea Theater is world premiering Linklater's broody drama about grief and survival, which melds surprising, often morbid humor with plot twists that connect the characters in unexpected ways.
Jim Simpson, artistic director at The Flea, guides the reflective 75-minute production so that even silences, non-responses and glances are important.
Linklater is better known as a stage and TV actor, particularly for "Seminar" on Broadway last year. Here, he's written a tight, suspenseful drama with ordinary-sounding dialogue that creates empathy for his three characters while building tension.
A chatty teenage boy (played with amiable snarkiness by Noah Robbins) tries to ingratiate himself with an older woman sitting at a bus stop, in hopes she'll buy him some beer. Deirdre O'Connell is perfectly cast as the unnamed, world-weary, middle-aged widow. O'Connell, a 2010 Obie and Drama Desk-winner for "Circle Mirror Transformation," can convey multiple emotions with one incredulous sideways glare.
Zach Grenier is subtle and solid as a liquor store owner who seems to know a lot about the boy, and figures out important information about the woman when she interacts with him. Their scene in his store becomes increasingly stressful when her tough facade is challenged, yet they sort of flirt, in between arguments,