|L-R: Mac Brydon and Ryan Tramont in PIMM'S MISSION. Photo by Carol Rosegg.|
Both Robert Pimm (Mac Brydon) and Thomas Blander (Ryan Tramont) are regulars at the pub in midtown Manhattan owned and operated by Jim (Brad Fryman). They meet there regularly on Sundays where their conversations range from Robert’s commiserating with Thomas over Thomas’ recent divorce, to Robert’s disclosure of his own corporate misadventures in Great Britain (which led to his current relocation in the US), to Robert’s insistence that Thomas try to find a true mission in life. At this point, one might assume they are “friends,” although Robert is not prepared to go quite that far, quibbling extensively in the best Clintonian fashion on just what the meaning of “friends” is.
This Sunday, Robert is seated at the bar, nursing both a drink and a superficial wound to his head, just moments after an explosion at the nearby Zincorp building resulted in the deaths of 15 innocents - and Thomas is nowhere to be seen. FBI Agent Staats (Daniel Morgan Shelley) and his sidekick, FBI Agent Charles (Patrick Hamilton), are canvassing the area in their search for clues. In the course of their investigation, they encounter Robert who can’t quite seem to recall how he arrived at the bar but whose description, as it turns out, matches that of a man who was seen leaving the Zincorp building shortly before the explosion occurred.
Subsequently, Staats learns that Thomas is an employee of Zincorp and that he works at its headquarters – in the very building in which the explosion just occurred. And Jim reluctantly informs Staats that although he never quite overheard the details of Robert and Thomas’ many earlier conversations in the pub, it was clear to him that they were “discussing things” in a “pretty secretive” manner.
There’s not much more I can write about the plot of Pimm’s Mission without ruining its surprise ending - other than to say that, as the play evolves, it becomes increasingly evident that there is more to Robert and his relationship to Thomas than first meets the eye. I will, however, give you one hint: if you’re justifiably concerned over the threat of Islamic terrorism, you may be a bit disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re more politically “progressive” and inclined to perceive capitalism as a bigger bugaboo than Islamic terrorism, then you may find the play’s highly contrived conclusion to be more satisfying.
Notwithstanding that artificial contrivance, however, the play is very well written and quite entertaining. It unfolds over a period of 75 minutes with no intermission in a series of sharply constructed bar scenes in which Staats is interrogating Robert, interspersed with flashbacks to scenes involving Robert, Thomas and Jim in the same bar on various Sundays preceding the day of the explosion. Written by Christopher Stetson Boal and directed by Terrence O’Brien, Pimm’s Mission is currently receiving its US premiere at 59E59 Theaters in midtown Manhattan. All of the cast members merit praise for their performances but Mac Brydon, bouncing back and forth from the present to the past and back again, delivers a truly bravura performance – one might even say a star turn - and deserves a special accolade.