Come and knock on their door — but only if you have a high tolerance for awkward silences and male full-frontal nudity. Playwright David Adjmi’s 3C takes Three’s Company out of its ’70s sitcom fantasy world and brings it to Off Broadway’s Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, where gritty realities actually affect our trio of attractive young roommates — Brad (Jake Silbermann), Connie (Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky), and Linda (Hannah Cabell) — who are basically more three-dimensional versions of the characters played by John Ritter, Susan Somers, and Joyce DeWitt, respectively.
Like Ritter’s Jack Tripper, Brad is a Navy vet who must pretend to be gay in order to live with the girls — only he might not be pretending. Connie is the vapid blonde who must have endured untold traumas in her past to turn out so dead-eyed and promiscuous. And poor brunette Linda. Pathologically insecure and wildly jealous of her prettier roommate, she may be the most damaged one of them all, becoming easy prey for the lecherous landlord Mr. Wicker (Bill Buell) and his needy, pill-addicted wife (Kate Buddeke).
In the bracing and provocative first half, Adjmi’s erratic dialogue hurtles forward at a frenetic, coke-fueled pace; each character seems thoroughly unhinged at all times, which suits the play’s satirical tone. But these wacky neighbors wear out their welcome because it all becomes too much. There are too many shrieking arguments, too many impromptu dance parties, too many appearances by disco-loving ladies’ man Terry (Eddie Cahill), and way too many meltdowns — each of the three leads spends an absurd amount of time staring off into the distance, clutching his or her elbows while having some terrible epiphany.
The young ladies are the bright spots here: Chlumsky is believable as the wispy space cadet, and she adds surprisingly dark layers to Connie’s bimbo persona; Cabell’s physicality and unique talent for wild facial expressions elicit the show’s biggest, most appreciative laughs. While Silbermann deserves a slow clap for baring his tremendous physical assets, he seems as confused as the audience is by his character.
They may be waiting for you, but don’t go out of your way to welcome 3C to the neighborhood. B?
(Tickets: rattlestick.org or 212-279-4200)