So after Annie, wearing an “Assassins” sweatshirt, gets trained in martial arts, she goes on the road with the Shaft-like, alpha-male bounty hunter Lazarus (Alan H. Green).
And that’s about all I can bear to relate, except to say that when Annie arrives at an Ecuadorean brothel run by Roundtree, she tries to unionize the prostitutes. “Everyone deserves their two-hour dinner break between performances,” she says, as if Equity had expanded to sex work.
That’s actually one of the show’s funnier lines; the script is at its best twitting Broadway and its byways. When the hotheaded Lazarus tears into Annie for mailing Roundtree’s dossier to a casting director instead of her headshot, she retorts, “I feel like I’m working with Mandy Patinkin again.”
But even as light comedy, “Broadway Bounty Hunter” is sorely lacking in the core pleasures of storytelling, such as character development, emotional engagement and credible stakes. Rather, the production, under Jennifer Werner’s direction, seems to embrace amateurishness as an aesthetic. It’s the kind of show that proudly attempts to mine humor from feigned incompetence, as if poor construction were a virtue.
The songs, at least, clear that low bar. As he demonstrated in “Be More Chill,” Mr. Iconis has a talent for sharp pop hooks. But also as in “Be More Chill,” the amplification here is so assaultive that the music comes off as something to endure instead of enjoy.
That’s a shame because even if they are sometimes trifling or outré (Ms. Golden’s big number is weirdly called “Veins”), the songs are fabulously sung by the nine-person cast, who simultaneously perform choreography (also by Ms. Werner) that resembles a cross between Jazzercise and Krav Maga.
To me, the real mystery is why authors clearly capable of aiming higher settled on this — and kept at it. (The show had its premiere at Barrington Stage Company in 2016.)
But theater, even if it’s not yet Equity-covered prostitution, is as cruel to young writers as it is to women of a certain age. The authors needed a chance to fail, and Ms. Golden needed a chance to shine. Though “Broadway Bounty Hunter” is a success on both counts, it mostly makes you want to see everyone involved get involved in something better.
Broadway Bounty Hunter
Tickets Through Sept. 15 at Greenwich House Theater, Manhattan; broadwaybountyhunter.com. Running time: 2 hours.