Rated 2.0 Toyer is billed as a psychological thriller. The plotline sure makes it sound like one. A psycho stalks women and, instead of killing them, drugs them. Then, the madman toys with the women before stabbing them in the cerebral cortex and disabling them for life. This may have worked in the Gardner McKay novel Toyer, but the book doesn’t translate into good theater.In a psychological thriller, a solid buildup makes for a solid payoff. In order to be effective, the plot and characters must creep up on the audience and hold it in suspense. Sometimes this works, as in Wait Until Dark, in which the characters and emotions build to an ultimate climax.

But, in Toyer, shrinking this novel into a two-act drama also shrinks everything else—the plot, the characters, their reactions and, ultimately, the suspense. And because so much was tossed out in the process of getting it onstage, the biggest loss is logic.

Maude is a doctor who not only treats the survivors of the psycho, but also is being trailed by an unknown stalker. So, what’s the first thing this smart lady does? She invites a stranger into her living room. In the beginning, the stranger, Peter, begins to charm her, but then he makes her nervous. How does she try to get rid of this creep? By stripping. Then when Peter turns on her violently, chasing, tormenting and terrorizing her, what does Maude do when she finally fends him off? She believes some weird-ass story he tells her, forgives him and then, honest-to-god, makes love to him. And that’s just in the first act.

Maude’s reactions ping-pong all over the place. Within minutes, she ranges from nervous to angry, cowering and then seducing. With so much stacked against it before it even starts, this Celebration Arts production doesn’t stand a chance—although the cast gives it a valiant try.

Attempting to make this uphill battle work are Lynne Rankin-Chochran as Maude and Tedaryl Chapman as Peter. Chapman makes a convincing psycho-charmer, but Rankin-Chochran has a tougher job with Maude, mostly because of the uneven script and characterization. Add uneven pacing to this implausible plot, and, in the end, Toyer just doesn’t ring true.