Susan Granger’s review of KID VICTORY (Vineyard Theater Off-Broadway)
An angst-filled adolescent is the pivotal player in an elusively dark, dour and disturbing new musical by Greg Pierce (“Showgirl”) and renowned Broadway composer John Kander (“Cabaret,” “Chicago”), who previously collaborated on “The Landing” (2013).
In a flash-image prologue, a young man is seen handcuffed to a basement wall with only an air-mattress on the floor.
It turns out that, after disappearing several months, 17 year-old Luke Browst (Brandon Flynn) has been rescued from drugged captivity in this dungeon and returned to his small Kansas hometown.
Luke used the moniker ‘Kid Victory’ when playing an Internet boat-building and racing game. That’s how he met Yachticus Nine, a.k.a. Michael (Jeffry Denman), a creepy former high school teacher who abducted him, tranquilizing him with opiate-laced root beer.
“Her found out where I lived and…took me away,” Luke says.
Once the sordid ordeal is over and he’s back with his perplexed parents, Luke’s adjustment is difficult. His domineering mom (Karen Ziemba) is very religious, inviting a fellow churchgoer into their home for some bizarre counseling involving marbles.
While Luke’s orthodontist dad (Daniel Jenkins) tries to understand, his old girlfriend (Laura Darrell), confused by his emotional distance, warbles “I’d Rather Wait.”
The one person Luke relates to is bohemian Emily (Dee Roscioli), who gives him a job at her eclectic garden supply store. Then there’s a “Not Quite True” confrontation with a suspicious detective (Joel Blum).
Although director Liesl Tommy elicits fine performances from her cast, the book is quite confusing. Playwright Greg Pierce (nephew of actor David Hyde Pierce) never achieves the dramatic intensity of the book/film “Room,” which is also about a sexual predator holding someone in captivity.
Quite deliberately, Luke has no song. He has lost his identity. And the Kander’s downbeat music is less than memorable. This is not a ‘cast album’ you’d want to acquire and listen to later.
Bottom Line: It’s a disappointing theatrical experience.