May 15, 2015

Juan, a lonely janitor new to this country, has lowered the bar for friendship all the way to the floor, where a skittering insect named Tony is his best bet for a meaningful connection. “I know that in your eyes I am just a human being like any other, and to me you are just a common cockroach,” Juan says, adapting his pitch from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. “But if you let me domesticate you, to me you would be unique, and I would be unique to you.” It’s a small, funny moment in Antonio Vega’s “The Duchamp Syndrome,” presented by the Play Company and Por Piedad Teatro at the Flea Theater. (The companies collaborated on “Working on a Special Day” in 2013.) This odd and intricate new play is studded with spare parts borrowed from other artists, including Franz Kafka, Emma Lazarus and, of course, Marcel Duchamp. “American Beauty” and Redd Foxx are in there, too. Inspired by Mr. Vega’s experience as a Mexican immigrant in New York, “The Duchamp Syndrome” borrows most from the comedian Andy Kaufman, who in the 1970s found fame by playing slight variations on the adorable alien: the Foreign Man character from his stand-up act, then the sweet Latka Gravas on the sitcom “Taxi.”