Paul Scott Goodman's adaptation of Bright Lights, Big City, like Williams's script, is naive early work that would deserve compassion rather than anger if it weren't so dressed up in moneymaking intentions. Wiser heads might have told Goodman that the narcissistic yuppie cokeheads who populated '80s discos were nothing to wax romantic about. That someone smelled a second Rent in Jay McInerney's novel must, under the circumstances, be attributed to New York Theatre Workshop's surrealist sense of humor. What Goodman, who appears as the show's narrator, doesn't get is the basic New York nightlife attitude— we're dead so let's have fun— which is too cynical for his less than great attempts at rock emotionality. The optimal score for this story would probably be standard show tunes perverted, starting with "Mr. Snow" and "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," maybe with a dream ballet set in the hero's nasal passages.
Within the limits of the more earnest approach he's chosen, Michael Greif keeps the show functioning. Blake Burba's bright lights, which do most of the set decorating, are an immense help, but Greif's strongest asset is once again a highly talented castful of relative unknowns. Patrick Wilson handles the grueling lead with persistence and skill; I also particularly liked Jacqueline Arnold, Carla Bianco, Jerry Dixon, and Napiera Daniele Groves