Bad Habits

Square Mama revives dead comedy. Bad idea.

This is the inaugural production of new Bay Area-based theater company Square Mama. Its mission is to revive plays that, for one reason or another, closed on Broadway or never made it to San Francisco before getting due acclaim. This is an excellent but risky idea, because perhaps many of these plays closed for good reason. In the case of Terrence McNally's comedy Bad Habits, it was because of a severely flawed script. The concept is great: two one-acts, back-to-back, each set in a different medical retreat with radically different treatments. The first rehab encourages patients to indulge in their bad habits, while the second forbids every possible pleasure. The entire cast is hilarious, especially in the smaller roles: Remi Barron as the German butler wanting to give patients “rubdowns,” Raúl Ramón Rubio as the Japanese S&M sex fiend, and Brian O'Conner channeling Bill Murray as the lecherous maintenance man (“I got desires, and I like to do 'em!”) are brilliant. Too bad McNally offers us no plot or real drama. As a result, we're left with an unfinished and unsatisfying product despite the promising setup.

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