My overall impression
Zip Ties is a play that zig zags. The show opens on Saul (Ryan Lisman) explaining to Otto (Hank Doughan) that ropes are the best way to tie up a man—much better than zip ties. Both of the men are mercenaries, hired to abduct a man (David McCarthy) who has recently been released from jail. By the end of the play, someone is tied up with—you guessed it—zip ties.
To call Saul incompetent would be an understatement, but of course, he’s unaware of his ineptitude—though Otto is more than happy to point out every way in which Saul is insufficient. The two trade barbs, speeding through playwright Benjamin Schwartz’s snappy dialogue.
Zip Ties is a black comedy through and through, complete with random violence, an Irish crime lord, a Jehovah’s Witness, grisly torture instruments, and, of course, plenty of stage blood.
The show is a lot of fun, zipping from character to character—some characters die suddenly, while others are left alive for no discernible reason. The plot raises more questions than it answers, but it’s not a grave sin, since it speeds along so quickly that there’s no time to ponder the questions that have been left unanswered.
Under Joe McCormack Estrella’s direction, the cast nails the play’s tone. All six actors have a good grasp on who their characters are, and how they interact with the other characters. At times, the acting veers too far into schtick (especially with Doughan’s Otto, a man full of quirks), but when the cast keeps things grounded, it’s a lot of fun.
The show is definitely an ensemble piece, but it’s the smallest roles that shine the most—as the Jehovah’s Witness who accidentally stumbles into the grisly motel room where all of this is happening, Brendan Mulligan gives the audience a character they can sympathize with, while probation officer Paul’s (Robert J. Watson) loopy antics garner the biggest laughs.
Schwartz’s play gives the actors and director a high-energy playground to work in, and they acquit themselves well. To call Zip Ties short and sweet would require a fundamental misunderstanding of the word “sweet,” but it is an quick, entertaining play.