The only thing heavier than the irony of its title is the emotional oppressiveness of this drama at the Circle Repertory Company. It occurs simultaneously on two levels and at two time periods. While an unmarried mother-to-be soliloquizes on her plight in the bleak attic of a Minnesota farmhouse in the winter of 1931-32, the adult fate of her unwanted child is being played out, 20 years later, in an Alaskan US Army post.
A walking Information Please almanac who pleases no one with his encyclopedic chatter, Paul Johnson, the harmless young soldier, becomes the easy prey of a bullying corporal. When Johnson can no longer endure the silent treatment to which his fellow soldiers, at the corporal's instigation, cruelly subject him, he commits suicide.
"Innocent Thoughts, Harmless Intentions" spins out its grin and dreary details for 2 1/2 hours. Although the author's sense of concern is unmistakable , the dialogue seldom rises above a kind of tape-recorded realism; furthermore, very little light is shed at the end of this long sub-arctic night.
The play is impressively acted by Patricia Wettig as the pregnant teen-ager, Jonathan Hogan as the corporal, Zane Lasky as his victim, Kiya Ann Joyce as the young Eskimo widow the corporal seduces, and a convincing squad of Actors' Equity enlisted men. Director B. Rodney Marriott leaves no thought or motive unexplored. The chill of winter -- Minnesotan and Alaskan -- surrounds Tom Lynch's stark unit setting for attic and barracks.