Like Beckett’s tramps in “Waiting for Godot, ” the two stink bombs in Andy Gershenzon’s apocalyptic tango occupy a no man’s land of desperation and banal conversation. “Tension, ” ponders Gus, the self-described sensitive dweebo, “what’s it good for?” Well, it can be useful to playwrights, for one thing. But tension does not make a play, and there’s not much payoff in this Black Sheep production, directed by Vance Smith in a not-quite-satisfying follow up to last year’s zinger, “Another Day in the Empire.” Somewhere in a concrete bunker, Gus (Robert Kauzlaric) and his fellow cave dweller, the sullen Jacob (John Byrnes), are this close to becoming human compost when the arrival of Trish (Lori Myers) changes the dynamic in specific and irreparable ways. Jacob ventures above ground to search for food, leaving Gus to fill the air with his fetid, manic loquaciousness. He speaks in pop-culture reference points that no longer have meaning in a world gone to shit, which is part of the joke. He is a lunatic philosopher with insights such as, “Hugs are the foreplay of foreplay.” Trish is charmed and repulsed, charmed and then repulsed once more. And for good reason—Gus, the bumbling puppy, sees a sexual liaison in their future, whether she is a willing participant or not. “There’s still room for romance,” he says. This endless prattle—which comes to a violent end upon Jacob’s return—is not without its entertainment value, and the three-member ensemble is intensely keyed into the slashing humor and shape-shifting moods of their unwashed desperados. Even so, the words they speak are as meaningful as random noises in the dark. (Nina Metz)
At the Royal George Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted, (312)988-9000. This production is now closed.