(Charles Isherwood’s article appeared in The New York Times, 4/9.)

Language is both a source of artillery and the substance of impenetrable defenses in the remarkable play “Born Bad” by the British writer Debbie Tucker Green at Soho Rep. Running just an hour, this intense, stylized drama about poisonous family secrets hits you like a triple shot of espresso. You leave feeling slightly shaken: excited by the play’s formal invention, moved by its coiled emotional power.

Acted with fiery feeling by a superb cast, and directed with incisive clarity by Leah C. Gardiner, the play unfolds as a series of taut, brief scenes separated by blackouts and the occasional throb of music. The spare set by Mimi Lien suggests an abstracted middle-class living room, strafed with golden lighting by Michael Chybowski that evolves as the mood shifts in the room. (In its sensitivity to the style and tone of individual texts, the directing and design at tiny Soho Rep regularly outclasses the work done on many of the city’s larger stages.)

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