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A CurtainUp Review
Based on a Totally True Story
By Elyse Sommer
What saves Aguirre-Sacasa's comedy from being not just comfortingly predictable (or, depending on your point of view, excessively so) is that the playwright adeptly juggles a dual writing career for Ethan (he has been successfully dreaming up new adventures for a comic book character and ahsalso written a play with big movie potential). The play's subtext with the personal problems and opportunities piling up in Ethan's life , his family's emotional problems (Ethan's difficulty in sharing his feelings with Michael has its roots in his mother and father's discontent with each other that has been given voice after thirty-three years). There's also the script's authenticity which no doubt owes much to the the basis for the title's claim of being "based on a totally true story." The playwright is indeed a comic book writer, employed by Marvel Comics to write The Sensational Spiderman.
While Nielsen, like White in Little Dog frequently threatens to run away with the acting honors, as the at once Hollywood savvy and endearing Hollywood producer with her own gone but not forgotten marital problems, Elrod and Pascal are appealingly on the mark as the hyped-up, neurotic Ethan and the quieter but equally intense Michael. The latter's mistakenly happening into a tiny downtown alternative to the Lincoln Center area Barnes & Noble Starbucks where he's supposed to have a blind date with a doctor, is stylishly tied to the ending. Another pickup date with a hunky Hollywood actor (bravo to Erik Heger for differentiating himself in this as well as three other roles). Michael Tucker is also good enough to make Elton's dad believable and funny, after a beginning that makes him seem like a character who wandered onto this stage in from an old sitcom.
The dialogue is seasoned with a few too many homilies, most of them courtesy of Mary Ellen ("Everyone in Hollywood's unfaithful because everyone in Hollywood has a first love-a true love-besides his wife or her husband". . ."Honesty is an overrated virtue"). However, director Michael Bush keeps things moving along and the overall result is light and bright -- just .like a chapter in a comic book story.
This is the second Aguirre-Sacasa play to be reviewed at CurtainUp this week, the other, Bloody Mary, a curtain raiser for Dread Awakening, a four-play homage to horror flicks. Don't be surprised if one of these days this hot, young double dipping author comes up with a play that isn't quite so self-consciously hip but will stick to your mind long after you've seen it.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
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