Approaching the end of Mac Wellman's new "The Lesser Magoo," at Ivy Substation, a character remarks that it's hard to have a conversation "with people acting so, so . . . random."
That same quality also makes it hard to maintain interest in "The Lesser Magoo."
It begins promisingly, with a scene depicting a job interview from hell. Poor Torque (Paul Gutrecht) is on the hot seat, interrogated by the hard-edged Curran (Jennifer Griffin) while her boss Candle (Ryan Cutrona) snorts insults from the side.
Torque can't quite understand their questions. They speak in Wellmanesque--a combination of slang, technical jargon, made-up nonsense and the kind of real words that require a trip to the dictionary. At least Torque understands more of the jargon than we do. Still, it's easy to grasp the essential dynamic of this conversation and to sense that something is at stake.
The rest of the play doesn't manage as much. It moves to Candle's country estate. The host, his wife Ruth (Christi Engel) and daughter Tessara (Sarah Jean Abramson) are entertaining Curran plus distant relatives Candle Prosper (William Mesnik), who has just retired from the Senate, and Sycorica (Lena Starostina), from somewhere deep in Asia. Also on hand are the effusive author Gabriel Pleasure (William Gonta), the silent mathematical genius Foss (Richard Tyson), a former employee's ghost (William Martin Brennan) and the caterer Shimmer (Gutrecht).