MYSTERY OF ATTRACTION. By Marlane Meyer. With Richard Bekins, Barry Del Sherman, Deidre O’Connell. Directed by Jeff Cohen. Presented by Worth Street Theater Company at Tribeca Playhouse, 111 Reade St. Tickets: $15 (212) 571-1576. Rarely have a pair of pathetic, degenerate and whiny losers been so much fun to listen to as in “The Mystery of Attraction,” a dark, quirky comedy by Marlane Meyer that was originally produced at last year’s Humana Festival of New American Plays in Louisville, Ky. Brothers Ray (Richard Bekins) and Warren (Barry Del Sherman) have enough vices, hangups and domestic issues to fuel two Sam Shepard plays. But instead of the usual warring siblings, Ray and Warren are kindred spirits – both are lousy at love, bad at their jobs and generally clueless about how to get along in life without making a mess of things. At least they have each other, even if Warren did steal his older brother’s wife, a betrayal that fails to set off fireworks between them. “Mystery” unfolds in real time over roughly 100 minutes. The brothers engage in long, whisky-fueled and frequently funny conversations in which they examine the genesis of their failing marriages – and their common attraction to the unseen Sharkey, Ray’s former and Warren’s current wife. But the play is about more than two aging, befuddled men who are unable to grasp the intricacies and responsibilities of a relationship. As the title suggests, it also delves into the sordid interests that have landed the brothers in loads of trouble. Ray, a lawyer who likes to gamble, owes his bookie $20,000 and is being hounded by a menacing goon named The Bone Collector (Jefferson Slinkard). Warren, a vice cop who’s been demoted for ethical infractions, is in hot water with his wife over his latest hobby – taking nude photographs of their neighbor’s 14-year-old daughter. Bekins and Del Sherman give strong performances and play off each other well, delivering crisp dialogue rife with droll, black humor. In a brief appearance as Ray’s current spouse, Deirdre O’Connell nicely conveys the rage, disappointment and still-smoldering love of a longsuffering wife. There’s a twist at the end that doesn’t quite ring true. Until then, “Mystery” is an engaging look at almost-lovable losers who can’t deal with love and loss. E-mail: rdominguez @edit.com
MYSTERY OF ATTRACTION By Marlane Meyer. With Richard Bekins, Barry Del Sherman, Deirdre O’Connell. Directed by Jeff Cohen. Presented by Worth Street Theater Company at Tribeca Playhouse, 111 Reade St. Tickets: $15. (212) 571-1576.