"What kinda fuckin' world is this?!" wailed the man on the stage, wearing only a shirt and underwear. From this opening line, we knew life wasn't easy for the folks in Stephen Adly Guigis's Our Lady of 121st Street
. In the play, the pants-less character, Victor (James Belcher), was supposed to attend services for his dead friend, but that was before someone stole her corpse -- and Victor's pants -- right out of the viewing room. Belcher's rant against this "godless jungle" of a world is representative of the fine performances director James Black was able to extract from the entire lot of his actors. Best known for his mesmerizing performances in productions at the Alley over the past decade, Black lately has shown a clear passion and uncanny knack for directing. Using a local cast -- many of whom had rarely if ever performed at the Alley -- Black created a nuanced production, and he took chances more experienced directors might not have risked. One gets the feeling that Black has only begun to polish his directing skills, and the best is yet to come.