`Boys' Life': cheerless comedy

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Boys' Life Comedy by Howard Korder. Directed by W.H. Macy. ``Boys' Life,'' at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater, is a slight and cheerless little comedy about the ups and downs of a friendship among three overgrown adolescents. Cynical Jack (Clark Gregg) divides his time between baby-sitting his small son and philandering. Romantic Don (Jordan Lage) finds his way to love and marriage. Phil (Steven Goldstein) is a freaky wimp who doesn't find his way anywhere.

Principally involved in the male trio's not-so-boyish pursuits are Lisa (Melissa Bruder), a waitress and would-be sculptor, and Maggie (Felicity Huffman), an activist jogger.

To the extent that ``Boys' Life'' reflects the general moral state of the 1980s, one would have to conclude that the 1990s can't come too soon.

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Playwright Howard Korder displays an ear for fashionable obscenity and the comic possibilities of trendy jargon, an eye for the messy urban scene, and a knack for sharp dialogue.

The playwright has been well served in the crisp ensemble performance staged by W.H. Macy. The smartly mounted production was designed by James Wolk (sets), Donna Zakowska (costumes), and Steve Lawnick (lighting), with incidental music by David Yazbek.

``Boys' Life,'' which runs through June 5, marks the Lincoln Center debut of the Atlantic Theater Company, a not-for-profit producing group that emerged from a series of workshops taught by playwright David Mamet and Mr. Macy from 1983 to 1985.

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