Of the three characters in Tony DiMurro's new play Waiting For My Man, which just opened at the DR2 Theatre, it's difficult to say how many actually exist.
The odds are good that at least one does: a young man named Tic (played by Patrick Holder). That he gained his nickname from those who found his constant nervousness amusing is perhaps not as ancillary as it may first appear; he's found his way to the streets of New York after his drug habit robbed him of his money, his family, and his friends, and is now apparently alone in the world.
Waking up in the gutter one morning, he meets Slim (Craig Alan Edwards), also apparently a man of the streets, but one who knows quite a bit about Tic and the beloved brother he pushed away when drugs too completely took over his life. Is Slim real or a figment of Tic's subconscious imagination, constructed to help get Tic back on the straight and narrow? That's a question DiMurro never addresses directly.
Besides, though the play is primarily a discussion between the two men, the question of Slim's identity is not the most interesting thing about Waiting For My Man. That would be the show's third character, Maria (Sharita Hunt), who appears twice during the play, but almost never interacts with Tic and Slim directly. Her style of dress and behavior (sifting through a garbage can to unearth its treasures, for example) suggest that she, too, has nowhere else to go, but her style of speech doesn't quite compare to that of Tic and Slim. Their dialogue is grounded in reality, while hers is more image-driven and cosmic: "Now you shall at least be warm as the night continues to cover infinity" is one typical line.
But Maria's presence in the show holds the key to understanding it, and enjoying it to the fullest extent possible. Her appearance is a reminder - to Tic, Slim, and to us - of the greater forces overseeing life even in its darkest moments. For some, that may be God or another such holy figure, but for Tic and Slim, it's New York City itself, which can (and does) wrap them up in its arms and give them at least some hope that they can survive to find better times just down the road. It's not coincidental that Maria plays a vital role in Tic's journey of self-destruction, but whether that's a role of protector or enabler is yet something else left for the audience to decide.
Examined in this way, Waiting For My Man succeeds at being a bit more than the sum of its parts. DiMurro's story is never quite as compelling as the way he's chosen to tell it, and director Anthony Patellis doesn't always have as firm a grip on the play's reality as he does the fantastic. At least Troy Hourie's set, which depicts a rough neighborhood complete with street signs and a subway station, and Cecil Averett's sound design really feel like New York. Josh Bradford's lights do their job very nicely, and Kitty Leech's downtrodden costumes also seem very right.
Hunt has some difficulties making the more florid of Maria's passages credible, but the acting is otherwise fine, particularly from Holder. He eschews clichés in his work here, giving a performance less about the physical effects of the drugs on his system and more on their devastating impact on his soul. As Edwards's Slim attacks him from exactly that vantage point, their two performances end up working beautifully in concert.
Even if DiMurro never shows all his cards, he displays just enough of them for Waiting For My Man to emerge as a thoughtful, poetic examination of a dark situation in which, at first glance, there would appear to be no room for such. That, in itself, is a notable achievement.
Waiting For My Man