With its too-explanatory subtitle, "A Play With MacGuffins," Silent Steps has intentionally centralized a plot device generally meant to be decentralized. Some background: A MacGuffin, most frequently associated with Hitchcock films, is a red herring that initially propels the story, then makes an exit. By the end of the movie, you don't particularly care what happened to it because you're too focused on the main story and characters. In B. Walker Sampson's play, though, the irrelevant and the ambiguous have taken over. The main characters, a pushover taxidermist named Nicholas (Eric Villiers) and a cryptic Eastern European agent (Lizzie Maslen), capture the audience's attention largely because their intentions are the only easily comprehensible ones in the story. For them, it's a romance. For the other characters, it's a series of mostly unexplained subplots that—deliberately or incidentally—get in the way of the romance. Directed by Gregory Berry and Jim Brimble for Outsiders Inn Collective, Silent Steps is intellectually intriguing, but needs to move faster in order to maintain any sense of an arc. The play is filled with two-minute scenes and excessively long scene changes, leaving us quite literally in the dark.
Stone Soup Downstage, 4029 Stone Way, 633-1883, www.outsiders-inn.com. $15. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. Ends Oct. 4.