Breathing Time is the latest suit-and-tie drama by Beau Willimon, who adapted House of Cards for Netflix and wrote Farragut North (which inspired the Ryan Gosling starrer The Ides of March), but this one is sweeter but less impactful. Produced by Off Broadway’s Fault Line Theatre, the show opens on a generic corporate setting in downtown Manhattan in the early aughts you can tell by the boxy computer on one of the desks. Mike (Lee Dolson), a straitlaced banker, and his overgrown frat boy officemate Jack (Craig Wesley Divino) bro out in the first hour of the workday before their morning coffee kicks in, talking about their families, planning money-making ventures, and ogling a hot new employee (Whitney Conkling).
At the play’s midway point, a major twist lends tragic significance to what otherwise feels like an ordinary weekday morning (although you can see the twist long before it hits). Then we skip to three weeks later in a nearby restaurant, where Mike’s wife (Molly Thomas) and Jack’s sister (Shannon Marie Sullivan) meet for the first time.
There are some excellent moments in the play, including a monologue in which Jack tells a defining story from his childhood in two ways first funny, then heartbreaking and shows Mike that he’s not just a Wall Street douchebag. But Breathing Time feels mostly forgettable, like an early-career script Willimon found in a drawer and dusted off. It’s a competent little play about people struggling to connect, but Willimon is way more fun when he’s depicting people trying to destroy each other. B