Eric McCormack is, clearly, not afraid of being disliked. And he is utterly unlikable as Guy — perhaps the most narcissistic of all the narcissistic men in the Neil LaBute oeuvre. Guy — who’s on a pre-marriage, cross-country This Is Your Life-like quest to make amends with former girlfriends — is more than a mere playboy or standard-issue heartbreaker. He is (as one woman categorizes him) a ”killer,” an ”assassin,” an ”emotional terrorist.” And he’s worlds away from Will, the gay Everyman McCormack embodied for eight seasons on Will & Grace.
Not surprisingly, it takes McCormack a while to shed his W&G-honed eccentricities and acquire a LaBute-style thick skin. His first ex visit is just plain awkward. (Though Brooke Smith — as his high school sweetheart — does get some zingers: ”It’s funny how you know so much about women. [Pause] Now.”) His second encounter — with a Chicago boho gal — is marginally more believable, though McCormack generates little heat with bubbly Judy Reyes (a.k.a. Scrubs‘ sassy nurse Carla). In scene No. 3, LaBute actually starts to stick it to his Guy, allowing his older ex-mistress (Fran Drescher, trading her nasal Nanny intonation for a cool, measured alto) to take a small measure of revenge. But in the fourth and final scenario — in which Guy finally meets Bobbi, the one who supposedly got away — the dialogue really crackles, and McCormack and ER star Maura Tierney (making a dynamite stage debut) have incredible chemistry. ”When is hurting okay?” Bobbi asks, and McCormack’s face shifts almost imperceptably from defensiveness to pain to confusion to defensiveness again.
Some Girl(s) — which was first performed in London last summer starring another NBC alum, long-faced Friend David Schwimmer — is less a play than a perverse parlor game, but LaBute’s observations are as searing as ever. He’s no ”cartographer of the soul” (as Guy deems himself to be), but I suspect the knife-wielding playwright is more on point than we imagine. (Tickets: Call TicketCentral at 212-279-4200, or visit ticketcentral.com)