By Thom Geier
Updated November 20, 2011 at 05:00 AM EST
WILD ANIMALS YOU SHOULD KNOW Jay Armstrong Johnson, John Behlmann, and Gideon Glick
Credit: Joan Marcus

There are some interesting ideas at work in Thomas Higgins’ Off Broadway drama Wild Animals You Should Know. But scout’s honor, this is an exploration of contemporary suburban American manhood that seems to get a little lost in the woods. (Does Brookstone sell a GPS device for playwriting?)

The show centers on Matthew (a strong Jay Armstrong Johnson), a golden-boy teenager who is alternately depicted as narcissistic, provocative, homophobic, and feral. He has a gay best friend (Gideon Glick) whom he both leads on and pushes away. He has a wuss of a father (an aptly recessive Patrick Breen) allergic to the outdoors and too timid to tell his son he’s been fired from an unnamed white-collar job. And he has a closeted gay scoutmaster (a stalwart John Behlmann) whose life he seems bent on ruining for no good reason. (He also has a cryptic, vaguely supportive mother, played by Tony winner Alice Ripley in a woefully underwritten role.)

Wild Animals boasts individual scenes that shine, including a class-infused exchange between Breen’s uptight character and another more blue-collar scouting dad. But none of the characters seem fully fleshed out in Higgins’ engaging but overly schematic plot. This is one campfire tale that could use more kindling. C+

(Tickets: or 866-811-4111)