Nicky Silver’s The Altruists is a sneering satire about vapid activists living in turn-of-the-millennium New York, a metropolis filled with narcissistic people who are gleefully terrible to one another. The cluster of anti-establishment cretins is bankrolled by a delusional soap star who walks around with a handgun in her purse. Valerie Westgate clearly has a ball playing vapid, shrill Sydney, and her comedic energy carries a huge chunk of the play. Everyone’s making their way to a rally, though nobody can remember what it’s for, or which bombs to bring. But things get complicated when someone kills someone else, and the circle of frenemies is invaded by a homeless, gay-for-pay hustler. Played with calm reserve by Courtney Stafford, he’s a dim but well-meaning introvert who’s far too downtrodden to exist in the same play as these other characters.*
* I’ve been racking my brain since Saturday trying to think of a single other play or movie or book where an adult male hustler has a pimp.
photo: James Lastowski