`Lascivious Something` is a lusty drama

New York: The most fascinating thing about so-called civilized conversation is guessing what the participants are really thinking.

When you have a triangle that combines two old lovers, unexpectedly reunited — she`s on a mysterious, solo mission and he`s married to a much younger Greek woman — the alternate versions of their conversations could expectedly be explosive.

Playwright Sheila Callaghan has scripted some passionate duplicate scenarios in ‘Lascivious Something,’ a lusty drama now performing off-Broadway at Women`s Project.

Rob Campbell plays impulsive August, who is attempting to make a perfect batch of wine at his wife`s Greek island vineyard; Elisabeth Waterston plays his dutiful, loving wife, Daphne.

Their apparently idyllic life is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Liza, an American woman, played by Dana Eskelson, whom Daphne immediately surmises is a former lover of her husband. The trio interact cautiously, with the added distraction of an odd household member, named Boy, played with inscrutable gender neutrality by Ronete Levenson.

The play is set in 1980, just as Ronald Reagan becomes president, and there`s a hint of political overtones. Back in their youth, Liza and August were activists, and she wants him to return to his old life, fighting for worthwhile causes. August is ambivalent and, naturally, Daphne suspects trouble. So the surface politeness is soon contrasted with violent undertones and, for good measure, some perversity as well.

Daniella Topol crisply directs this unusual look at the duality of human nature, as key conversations are rerun with alternate behavior, providing innovative options as to what might occur.

Campbell throws himself into his portrayal of a man wrestling with his life choices. Waterston is completely at ease with both her Greek accent and her complex characterization of Daphne. Eskelson is equally adept as an American woman who is a bit rough around the edges — laid back on the surface yet determined to get her way.

The stage looks hot, like a stone patio on a sunny Greek island, thanks to Marsha Ginsberg`s scenic stone walls and caged structures of rocks, brightly lit by Christopher Akerlind.

This combustible threesome is definitely worth spending an undeniably tense evening with, right through an unexpected twist at the end. The production runs through June 6.

Bureau Report