When the lights go up on a stage bedecked with various S&M-dungeon fixtures, one assumes impending comedy. When a fidgeting, tie-wearing Zach Braff is the one in the dungeon, imminent Freud-garnished psychological prodding becomes an equally safe assumption. Such is the case with Trust at 2econd Stage Theater, in which the four-person cast each grapple with the need to be both controlled and controlling, and the sexual parallels are drawn in fluorescent pen.

Paul Weitz's script takes the audience careening through psychological twists and turns, but perhaps too brusquely. The characters are all too aware of their own emotional "deformities" and highly acute daddy issues. Zach Braff flawlessly pulls off "Harry," the diffident, nerdy whelp suffering from money-malaise after selling his internet start-up for $300 million. "Being rich is Kafka-esque," declares Braff, comparing the sensation to having won a tennis match by default, never proving anything to the opponent. As he is strung up in manacles by Prudence—the dominatrix played by the disarmingly poised Sutton Foster—their hilarious moment of recognition (Braff: "I'm sorry, did you go to Stuyvesant?") is quickly sobered up by shades of darkness in their lives at home.

Prudence's boyfriend Morton, played by Bobby Canavale, is a deadbeat and abusive Cornell grad whose overinflated bad-guy shtick is visibly unraveling. Canavale's performance is magnificently physical, filling in where the script has left his character with motivational holes. When he finally does unravel, we are not sure why, and though he boasts his IQ ("I love you more than my vocabulary"), his lines are lacking the expected showy intelligence and big words. Harry's wife Aleeza (Ari Graynor) is the unhappy painter who doesn't paint, Plath-like and numbed both sexually and emotionally to her husband. The four share a tremendous lack of self-worth, and each struggle to maintain different but equally translucent facades, which produces successful poignancy for Trust. The problem is, when veins of genuine malice and fury emerge in the second act, it feels unwarranted. What did we miss? When Braff's character reveals a dark—almost sick—edge, we don't know where it came from, especially when he so convincingly landed the role of the nebbishy thirtysomething a half-hour earlier. We left feeling like we didn't pick up on something—or, more likely, weren't given anything to pick up on.