Credit: Red Light Winter: Paul Kolnik

Red Light Winter

The central character in Adam Rapp’s riveting Red Light Winter is writing a play, and not, he says, ”an Aristotelian, three-act, architecturally sound” kind of play. That should tell you a little something about what to expect from novelist-playwright-filmmaker Rapp, whose Winter is a two-act, architecturally unsound but undeniably compelling piece calling to mind the gritty, often cruel realism of dramatists like Kenneth Lonergan and Neil LaBute.

Confining his characters to a seedy Amsterdam hotel and (in act 2) an East Village hovel, Rapp constructs — and later destroys — a prototypical love triangle between a painfully shy playwright (Christopher Denham), his cocky frenemy (Gary Wilmes), and an actress-turned-prostitute (Lisa Joyce). The dialogue is electric — the boys engage in a thrilling verbal game of mine’s-bigger-than-yours — and the performances wonderfully nuanced (Denham expertly conveys intellectual superiority and emotional ineptitude). Rapp missteps with the ending — it seems tentative and tacked-on — but the previous two hours and 15 minutes have been so captivating that he’s easily forgiven. (Tickets: Call Telecharge, 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200 in the New York area, or visit

Red Light Winter
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