First Nighter: Joan Beber's "In Bed With Roy Cohn" Falls Out of Bed

You could say that Joan Beber's In Bed With Roy Cohn is a fantasia about the notorious Joe McCarthy-period lawyer. It features the alienating figure experiencing nightmares during his death throes as a result of what he insisted was liver cancer but was actually AIDS.

You could also say that the approximately 90-minute intermissionless opus, directed with chutzpah by Katrin Hilbe, is not so much a fantasia as a nightmare of a play about the last days of the agitated, desperate Roy Cohn (Christopher Daftsios).

That's a much more accurate description of the enterprise brought to Theatre Row's Lion Theatre by Undercover Productions LLC at what looks to be no small expense. While Gertjan Houben's projections and lighting design is complex and intricate, nothing at all illuminating is presented about Cohn during the frenetic action. Not a jot, unless you count the remark uttered by Barbara Walters (Lee Roy Rogers, exaggerating the often-noted Walters speech impediment, known as rhotacism, for all its worth). The statement goes "I don't forget loyalty," and it's representative of the response all Cohn's cronies gave about him when they were asked to comment and were obliged to say something positive.

Otherwise, a whole lot of shucking and jiving goes on signifying nothing -- much of it choreographed by Lisa Shriver and lots of it taking place off the stage and uncomfortably close to the ticket buyers. As sequences go by, the figures in Cohn's life needlessly and irritatingly denigrated include Ronald Reagan (Nelson Avidon, who does an okay version of the dulcet Reagan delivery), Julius Rosenberg (Ian Gould) and Cohn's mother Dora (Marilyn Sokol).

No serious theatergoer will have forgotten that Ethel Rosenberg comes to Cohn's bedside in several scenes that help distinguish Tony Kushner's Angels in America. If that two-part intellectual extravaganza can be considered one of the best American plays, if not the single best, of the 1990s, then In Bed With Roy Cohn can at the very least be considered one of 2015's absolute worst.

For the record, others associated with the unfortunate enterprise are Rebeca Fong as a nurse who can't stop shaking her booty, Serge Thony as a composite of Cohn's gay lovers and Andy Reinhardt as a young Roy who never speaks. Also, set designer Sarah Edkins, costume designer Karen Ann Ledger and sound designer Andy Evan Cohen are implicated. Condolences go out to them all. Surely, not a transgression in any of their pasts called for this kind of cruel and unusual punishment.