Theatrical Thoughts by Christopher Sirota
Although it starts out a bit slow, hang in there for an engrossing angle of Hollywood you may have overlooked in the revived production of Allan Provost’s The Gray List, now showing at the American Theatre of Actors, Sargent Theatre 314 West 54th Street.
The intimacy of black box theater works perfectly for this play which takes us behind the scenes of Hollywood screenwriting angst. In this case, it is not about staring at a blank page, aka writer’s block. No, this is the sad reality of “quality block”….that is, the unfortunate industry demand for easy-to-pitch eye candy fluff vs artistic endeavor.
Our main character, played with power and passion by Thomas J. Kane, is an accomplished screenwriter who is convinced that his agent, lightly played by Alan Charney, cannot sell his quality work because the author is too old. A fear mirrored by the screenwriters wife’s (sensitively played by Kitty Hendrix) threadbare career of commercials and movies of the week. The play cleverly explores how the screenwriter proves his theory, and how he tries to overcome it in an interesting way. Vincent Ianuzzi represented the younger generation with deserved energy.
Representing the golden age of Hollywood, is Marilyn Duryea who riveted the audience at each entrance, with each word, and received numerous laughs. She had a presence aptly cast for her role.
There were some moments in the plot that were a bit confusing when intended to be twists. Also, I would’ve liked the author to have made the screenwriter’s need to maintain integrity more urgent, and to raise the stakes more for all the characters. I did enjoy the cast’s performance, and would like to see them again. But I never worried about the outcome of the characters, thus the material is limited to being an interesting concept well worth the exploration. With these expectations, I would encourage seeing the play before it ends.
Final Weekend: www.legacystageensemble.org
Photos by: A.G. Liebowitz/WrightGroupNY
Christopher Sirota reviews classical theater and opera for Drama-Queens and other online publications. He appeared in the acclaimed 2010 production of Romeo & Juliet: Brooklyn. He is also a cinematographer currently in development for his second – and third – film.