The latest Victory Gardens offering, “A Big Blue Nail, ” ineffectively examines racial inequality at the top of the world between famed explorer Robert Peary and his African-American colleague Matthew Henson. The first act of playwright Carlyle Brown’s bloated script fails to capture the pacing necessary to hold the audiences attention and imagination. Peary (Larry Neumann, Jr.) summons Henson (Anthony Fleming III) to his island home. Between reminisces and fever dreams, we see Peary as an ambitious yet insecure navy lieutenant shilling for expedition funding, haunted by glimpses of his beautiful Future (Bethanny Alexander). Bogged down by hackneyed metaphors and hamhanded poetry, the game cast works hard: a powerful Fleming seethes with the frustration of ignominy; the reliably excellent Laura Fisher suffers as Peary’s lonely wife. Scott Baity Jr. is particularly fine as the personification of Peary’s outsized ambition. But all the heat the cast generates can’t warm Brown’s ice-cold writing. (Lisa Buscani)
At the Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln, (773)871-3000. This production is now closed.