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BKC

Theatre Review by Matthew Murray

With BKC, Brad Webb and Matt Schapiro have raised low comedy almost to a high art.

True, in this show at the Midtown International Theatre Festival you're unlikely to find anything overtly profound. The characters played Brad Webb and Matt Schapiro (who also wrote, produced, and directed the show) are at first, second, and third glance losers, adult men relegated to living in their mother and father's garage after finally getting kicked out of the house.

But just below the surface of this very funny (if occasionally cringe-inducing) comedy are serious issues facing adults of Webb and Schapiro's ages. What's the line between surviving and thriving? To what extent can one follow one's dreams before the pursuit itself becomes self-destructive? And where's the line between adulthood and actually growing up?

In their attempts to find a worthwhile career pursuit and earn money, Webb and Schapiro's characters (named Brad and Matt, appropriately) are willing to try almost anything, from stripping in the subway to forming a band. But while Matt's dreams center around fame and fortune, preferably as a rock star, Brad has set his sights toward Barbara, his ex-girlfriend who dumped him rather unceremoniously before the play started.

But all they have right now is each other, and in BKC, it proves enough. Passing up few opportunities to violate the fourth wall, Webb and Schapiro are often infectiously funny. They're a crack comic team, possessing excellent timing and a masterful understanding of give and take when dealing with each other or the audience. Each also gets a showstopping moment or two alone, such as when Matt's use of a bass guitar instruction tape makes him a superstar over the course of a few minutes, or Brad embarks on an accidental acid trip using too much of what he believes is a breath freshener.

Some of the comedy even leans (or aims) a bit lower than that, but Matt and Brad's unassuming attitudes and good-natured fraternal rivalry allow even the raunchier moments to play well. Some of the most creative of these are displayed on a TV monitor upstage, the main feature of BKC's limited set. The videography, designed by Jamie Slomski, depicts Matt and Brad only occasionally when offstage, but is used more often to clarify and expand on some of the comic points they make onstage. While this may help clarify certain moments in their relationship (past or future), its primary effect is to infuse a few cheap (but still valid) laughs into the moments needed for the actors to change costumes.

But as the play progresses, it becomes evident that BKC is Webb and Schapiro's affectionate paean to growing up and the attempts to delay it as long as humanly possible. That message is certainly something everyone of a certain age can relate to, though adults still trying to fight their way through their twenties may find it most pertinent, and the specific subject matter is likely to appeal more to men than women. It should be noted, though, that while the audience at the performance I attended was in stitches almost throughout, the women were generally laughing harder than the men (no insignificant achievement).

One final note: The title is an acronym for "ball-kicking contest," Matt and Brad's long-preferred method for resolving differences and disputes. And while there is one lengthy, live-action example of this during the show, it never seems extraneous; Webb and Schapiro are likable (and talented) enough to make it work, and allow the whole of BKC to be an enjoyable kick of a very different kind.

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Fourth Annual Midtown International Theatre Festival
BKC
Through August 2
Abingdon Theater Arts Complex, 312 West 36th Street
Schedule and Tickets: 212.279.4200