The Slab Boys Comedy by John Byrne. Directed by Peter Maloney.
Quickly to explain the title of the new Hudson Guild Theater attraction, "slab boys" are lowly workers who grind colors and mix glue in the "slab room" of a carpet factory. John Byrne has drawn on his own experiences in such a "slab room" for this slice-of-industrial-life comedy set near Glasgow in 1957.
The play suggests a Scottish version of those working-class dramas that proliferated in the British theater after World War II. The chief stock characters in the color-splattered slab room, designed by James Leonard Joy, are the resident bully (Daniel Gerroll), the bully's sidekick (Gene O'Neil), their perpetual victim (John Pankow), and an upper-class newcomer (Bo Smith), a natural target for the bully's resentful sarcasm.
That the bully's mother is mentally disturbed and that he may possess a deepdown artistic sensibility are Mr. Byrne's rather facile means for winning the character some otherwise unmerited sympathy. The long-winded play's redeeming features are its roughhouse humor (including a funny but overowrked sight gag) and his knack for rendering workaday Glasgow speech. In its New York premiere, "The Slab Boys" is helped by a cast that manages some fairly convincing Glaswegian accents. The excellent company directed by Peter Maloney includes Ian Trigger, Richmond Hoxie, Helena Carroll, and Noreen Tobin.