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Bullet for Adolf

Woody Harrelson is director and co-author of this tepid new comedy, involving the theft of a gun used in a failed assassination attempt against Hitler.

David Coomber and Nick Wyman
in Bullet for Adolf
(© Carol Rosegg)
Stage and screen star Woody Harrelson is the big draw for Bullet for Adolf, now at New World Stages although the talented actor is unfortunately not in the cast; instead he is the co-author (with Frankie Hyman) and director of this tepid new comedy.

The majority of the first act is all set-up, as the playwrights introduce their cast of characters -- none of whom are given much depth. This includes construction workers Dago-Czech (Lee Osorio), Frankie (Tyler Jacob Rollinson), and Zach (Brandon Coffey); their employer Jurgen (Nick Wyman) and his daughter Batina (Shannon Garland); Zach's aspiring actor roommate Clint (David Coomber); and Jackie (Shamika Cotton), a potential love interest for Frankie, and her best friend Shareeta (Marsha Stephanie Blake).

Through a contrived set of circumstances, everyone ends up at the Hitler-loving Jurgen's home for Batina's 18th birthday party. Miraculously, they all even stick around despite some heated racial tension. As the first act ends, it's revealed that someone has stolen Jurgen's prized possession -- a gun used in a failed assassination attempt against Hitler.

The second act is something of a whodunit, as everyone claims innocence, even though one of them is surely guilty. However, it's difficult to build up much interest in the outcome, as there doesn't seem to be much of a motivation behind the theft. Moreover, once the culprit is revealed, the resulting denouement is not that big of a payoff for this overly long effort that clocks in at roughly two-and-a-half hours.

Harrelson seems to have directed his cast to play their roles rather broadly, and consequently a lot of the scenes come across as forced. Admittedly, there are some humorous results from these outsized performances -- particularly from Coomber, who goes that extra mile for comic exaggeration.

Imaginary Media, who are responsible for the projection design, do a fantastic job of establishing the time period as the 1980s through a montage of imagery ranging from MTV videos to "War on Drugs" infomercials to Sally Ride going up into space on the Challenger. The company also creates a cute sequence showing Bullet for Adolf cast members in a bar environment, acting out a scene that isn't shown on stage.

Costume designer Kristy Leigh Hall also seems to have fun with some of the outfits for the characters, which pay homage to some decidedly 80s fashions. On the downside, scenic designer Dane Laffrey's set isn't built to endure all of the door slamming involved in the production. The walls continually shake, reminding us of the flimsiness of their construction -- which perhaps unintentionally mirrors the flimsiness of the show's plot.