Stage thrillers are not easy to pull off, less so on a postage-stamp-sized stage, but playwright Christopher Stetson Boal manages quite well with Pimm’s Mission. It’s set in a New York bar in the immediate aftermath of the Sunday bombing of an office building that caused 15 fatalities. A Fed named Staats (Daniel Morgan Shelley) is questioning an ex-pat Brit named Robert Pimm (Mac Brydon) who worked in the building and seems to have had a relationship with a disgruntled employee who used to work there; a guy we’ll meet in flashbacks, named Thomas Blander (Ryan Tramont). With the obviously junior agent Charles (Patrick Hamilton) as Staats’ gofer, and too avuncular barkeep Jim (Brad Fryman) offering both helpful and distracting commentary, the interrogation probes deeper, past Pimm’s obvious (?) obfuscation (?). One way or the other, Pimm is, Staats is sure, at the heart of the incident somehow.
The play is performed in one act, a neat, packed 75 minutes that encourages you to really pay attention. And the end is a twist within a twist that put me in mind of British thriller writer Brian Freemantle (creator of the bedraggled, dissolute but brilliant master spy Charlie Muffin; make his acquaintance if you don’t know him)—a worthy hide-in-plain-sight reveal that I daresay no one will see coming. Crisp, guy-stuff acting under the equally muscular (but subtle) direction of Terrence O’Brien seal the deal.
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