'To be honest, I wish you were in another line of work." Bruce Graham's romantic-comedy-thriller "Desperate Affection" brims with such understatement. But as directed by Bob Kaplan for the Hampton Theatre Company, each one crackles farcically. Of course, you had to be there to get the joke. Here's what we can say without triggering spoiler alerts.
Maddie is a single, not terribly successful actress. She'd love to do Shakespeare. Instead she plays a housewife in bathroom-cleanser commercials, dancing around a toilet. It pays the rent. Her apartment, rendered in all its messy Manhattan glory by set designer Kathleen Ilacqua, becomes a running sight gag.
The other character is Richard, the boyfriend - a strong, silent type. Maddie, with her checkered romantic past, isn't anxious to rock the boat. Still, she'd like to show him off to her friends. Maybe he'd be her date to the gay wedding of her ex-boyfriend.
Maddie explains to Richard that her love life always crashes once she sleeps with a guy. She and Richard recently crossed that threshold. So she's waiting for the "other" Richard to show his face. She says the men in her life all revealed a "post-orgasm" side to their character. Something "big" - such as sexual preference for men - disqualifies them once they feel comfortable with Maddie - that is, once they've been intimate.
Maddie, played with self-deprecating wit and outgoing vulnerability by Rebecca Edana, resorts to tricks to keep Richard happy. She tarts up with fire-engine-red lingerie and stiletto heels that kill her feet (costume design, Teresa Lebrun). She buys bakery cookies and heats them in the oven to make him think she bakes.
Edward Kassar cuts a tall, brooding, not-so-cuddly figure as Richard. It's typical that a manly type doesn't talk much about himself. We learn, along with Maddie, why he's chosen her, and more particularly, her apartment. Suddenly he's Mr. Clean, scrubbing everything in sight. But that's not his line of work. And tying her up? It may or may not be a fetish. All we can say is that teddy bears unnerve him.
WHAT "Desperate Affection," a play by Bruce Graham
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesday, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, at Quogue Community Hall, 126 Jessup Ave., Quogue
INFO $15, $12 seniors, $5 students; hamptontheatre.org, 631-653-8955