SEX AND SPIES were intertwined long before Mata Hari slipped between the sheets with some French military officers. The bed is the natural place to share secrets, and even the most mundane sexual affair carries with it the potential for enough lies, mistrust, and covert operations to fill a file cabinet or two.
Annex Theater, ends July 15
So it doesn't take Max Brinks (Peter Sorensen), the narrator/protagonist of Scot Augustson's new play Intelligence, long to catch on to why FBI agent Duncan Mars (Pete McBryan, who's got a great bullish presence like the young Peter Boyle) wants him to sleep with a visiting Russian scientist. Caught having sex in a public rest room and facing some significant jail time (although it's New York, it's also 1952), Brinks is happy to work off his punishment—particularly when he's given a swanky apartment and some cash just for trying to get the Russkie to give up some information about his job working on the H-Bomb.
But Max isn't much of a spy. He plans his seduction based on his favorite romance magazines and is disappointed when his seductee, Sergei (Patrick Sexton), turns out not to be ruggedly handsome but instead ordinary looking. Nevertheless, Max gets down to business fairly directly and soon he and Sergei have not only become lovers, but settled into a funny sort of domesticity.
Augustson's script takes an odd dip as the story settles in, and his extensive use of Max to directly narrate his thoughts to the audience gets tired fairly quickly. All three actors keep their performances sharp and observant, but Max's growing impatience with his situation is shared by us as well.
But like any good spy story, the impatience serves as an elaborate decoy for a neat little twist at the end. It's not enough, in all honesty, to cause you to burst out laughing or set your mind spinning; rather, it's a clever denouement more suited to an O. Henry short story than a Le Carr頮ovel. But it's the right ending for an evening that gives a clever gay variant to a well-known genre.