Missing Pieces

Craig Lucas' Missing Persons struggles to extricate itself from its own packaging

James Carpenter gives Tucker an exuberant sexual presence which lets us in on what made him so appealing to Addie and what, too, led him to disappear from her life with such shocking finality. (Every time he dashes out, replaying his final exit yet again, the slamming door sounds like a gunshot.)

Young Eli Marienthal does a fine job with the 11-year-old version of Hat, but the laughs he gets are unforgivably cheap, the result of his spouting banal profanity and parroting the adult Hat's perceptions.

There are plenty of cheap laughs in Missing Persons, which never develops beyond the level of sitcom in spite of its promising beginning. Nice touches of staging by director Penny Metropulos -- such as the way the young Hat and the adult Hat mirror each other's actions -- can't overcome the scattershot structure. The plain-wrapped set becomes an ironic comment on a play that struggles to extricate itself but never manages to break out of its alluring package.

Missing Persons runs through May 26 at Berkeley Repertory Theater; call (510) 845-4700.

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