Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Play: All Go Lightly

The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane, Directed by Fracaswell Hyman, INTIMAN Theatre, Through 13 September.

All in all, a nicely wrapped, neatly written, well performed play about characters that are simultaneously kind and cruel, wise and stupid, tightly wound and out of control. Deeply overlaid with rifts from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it is a story about ambition and relationships and getting what you want as opposed to what you think you want.

The proceedings are narrated by Hollywood agent Diane (Christa Scott-Reed), who is the native guide through the processes of dealmaking and stardom. Her main client is Mitchell Green (A Clooney-esque Neal Bledsoe) a rising star with a “recurring case of homosexuality” which up to now has been kept in the closet. Mitchell falls in love with rent-boy Alex (Quinian Corbett) who is in turn living with gal-pal/ sex partner Ellen (Megan Hill). Mitchell chooses to endanger his career in the name of his newfound love, and mad havoc ensues on all sides.

This is a good play from a writer’s angle, and a tough one from an actor’s. All these characters lie. To themselves, to each other, and to outsiders (there are number of marvelous one-sided conversations, particularly with an unseen playwright identified as He (meaning Him) which are just pure therapy for a writer). However, lacking clear villains and heroes (everyone gets a chance at both), the challenge as an actor is to ground your character to the point that the audience will forgive your transgressions later. And these four actors pull it off marvelously.

The set consists of Mitchell’s trysting hotel room, with a movable ring surrounding it for all the rest of the scenes. Pieces and vignettes move smoothly on and off, allowing internal monologues, one-sided conversations, and Diane’s direct-to-the-audience narration. It matches the clockwork precision of the play itself.

Nits, a couple. In the writing, there is a lot of people about to leave the room, which they never do (since that would end the scene). And the bicoastal theme is missing a bit in the accents - the Californians don't seem particularly Californian, the New Yorkers not too New York. Sort of blanched for the Seattle audience.

And if this is a modern Breakfast, then who is Hepburn's character - Holly Golightly? All of them, each in their own way.

A good play. Worth checking out.

More later,