What a strange little play. Off The Wall Productions' staging of Inky echoes today's talk of economic inequality, Thomas Piketty's rock-star economics bestseller Capital in the 21st Century and the whole American love affair with greed. As in "Greed is good." So '80s, where playwright Rinne Groff sets her 1999 comedy.
Directed by Ingrid Sonnichsen, Inky is snarky, funny, rather ugly and right on the money. Love and greed get all mixed up in an upscale family immediately drawn as dysfunctional by Rich Preffer's scarred, monochromatic set. Their First World problems of always-more and never-enough are thoroughly skewed yet absorbed by the title character, a Second (Third?) World refugee au pair. Resigned that yuppies can't bother to pronounce her real name, she answers to a nickname that portends a dark future.
A strong comic presence, Abby Quatro dominates the play as Inky does the family. The character's obsession with Muhammad Ali in particular, boxing in general, demands a physicality well realized with the help of fight director Randy Kovitz. Reality does indeed have to punch these people to get them to feel anything. They seemingly can't even be bothered to come up with a name for their newborn son, the reason for Inky's installation in the household. His fashionable bassinet enjoys pride of place on set, but baby is little more than a sound effect (courtesy of Ryan McMasters).
To be perfectly honest, everybody in Inky is reprehensible (including the adorable little daughter, played alternately by Evangelina Paul and Layla Wyoming). Tony Bingham portrays a nice array of levels of desperation (not all of them quiet) as the husband, Greg. Adrienne Wehr shows off Preffer's costume design to nice effect in a portrait of the grasping woman willing to destroy all in her quest to get ahead. The Little Foxes meet Wall Street.
All this venality does not undercut the comedy. There be many a chuckle and guffaw. A few jibes draw blood. If the story doesn't quite cohere, at least it is pleasantly brief.