In "The Other Man," their first produced play, authors Bryant Martin and Mark Botts have written an often taut if not always convincing thriller-cum–love story, in the process giving Martin a savory meal of a role. The actor plays Tom Donaghy, a young thug from England just released from a New York prison. Facing deportation, Donaghy is desperately searching for his vanished drug-addicted girlfriend Lisa. Not only does Martin's Donaghy sport a tangy cockney accent with generous amounts of rhyming slang; he can be violently threatening one moment, barking orders in a booming voice; funny and sexy the next, gently but confidently flirting with a woman he's just met; and then crushingly sensitive, recalling his early years in an orphanage. Martin melds it all into an impressive performance.
As the play begins, a gun-wielding Donaghy storms into the office of Raphael Cardozzo, a big-time drug dealer, demanding to know Lisa's whereabouts. It seems that Cardozzo not only sold Lisa drugs but also had a ruinous affair with her, and apparently his office has up-to-date records on all his old customers. While Angelica, Cardozzo's secretary-mistress, searches in the next room for information on Lisa, Cardozzo, captive in handcuffs, and Donaghy chat it up. The ex-con rhapsodizes about his love for Lisa, and in flashback we see their romance developing and then collapsing as Lisa sinks deeper into addiction. He also forces Cardozzo to telephone his wife and confess his affair with Angelica and periodically threatens to harm Cardozzo's two young daughters. The men further manage to go at each other in a nicely staged brawl.
Toward the end questions of blame come up—who's really responsible for Lisa's downfall—but they seem perfunctory. The play runs a scant 70 minutes or so, but some of the talk has the feel of obvious filler, despite Kimberly Faith Hickman's well-paced direction and a skillful cast.
Jens Rasmussen's trim, well-spoken Cardozzo may not be the most brutish mob boss around, but he has a menacing air of self-satisfaction that's quite effective. Kara Durrett believably limns Lisa's journey from fresh young thing to wretched addict, and Lucy Sheftfall imbues Angelica with an appropriately scary hard edge. But it's watching Martin bringing his own script to life with relish that gives the show its raison d'être.
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