B-Movie, The Play details strains of moviemaking
B-MOVIE -- THE PLAY
Written by Tom Wood.
Directed by Bob Baker.
Starring Tom Wood, Larry Lachimec,
Corrine Coslo, and Dana Brooks.
At The Wilbur Theatre, through May 20.
By NEIL J. ROSS
B-MOVIE -- THE PLAY, at the Wilbur Theatre, is wonderful. The US debut, which began on April 20 in Boston, looks as if it will continue the success of its Canadian opening in the mid-1980s.
Art, the main character, is a movie director working under a hilariously restrictive budget, and as the play begins we hear him recounting his life to his psychiatrist, who tells his secretary to send away all of his other patients for the day so that he can continue Art's session and hear "the good bits." His anxiousness to hear Art's story is well placed, as I'm sure the story would have done the psychiatrist just as much good as it did Art.
He begins by describing his childhood as "Dr. Zhivago without the interiors," and we see some photographs of the young Art, even then with his big round glasses. However, it is Lottie, the frumpy girl with the charming naivet'e of a 1950s B-movie character, who now wears the Woody Allen style glasses. Needless to say Art is unaware of her interest in him. There is a nice romantic conclusion to this at the very end -- but with a clever twist.
Art's trouble, "movie damage," starts during the preparation for his latest movie, based on Oedipus Rex, which has to be hastily rewritten to entice the prospective leading lady, Gloria Hunt, into appearing. The producers are desperate for her to take the part. Gloria (Dana Brooks) asks, "Does anyone mind if I smoke?", to which Stan replies, "I don't mind if you burst into flames."
Art is full of the artistic, creative energy of a director at work during the filming scenes. "The script says a peck, not a tongue sandwich," he shouts during one take. The movie has awful lines like "If I'm not in bed by 10 o'clock, I'm going home."
Writer Tom Wood, playing Art, was stupendous, with terrific energy and marvelous facial expressions, especially when <>
Art accidentally takes the valium-laced champagne and begins to hallucinate.
With the care of a mime artist, Larry Lachimec brought wonderful life to the farce. His character, Stan, drops continually into roles from movies, and he appears in drag in one scene of the movie they are filming. He also appears almost naked after falling out of the window of Art's apartment, but holding a lettuce from the Chinese grocery downstairs. This clown role would have been a joy for any actor.
Lottie, who has to act for the first time, was wonderfully portrayed by Corrine Koslo, who definitely was not acting for the first time. In plaid dress or pinafore dress she looked the part perfectly.
Brooks, as the glamorous soap opera star Gloria Hunt, was appropriately bemused by the antics which are going on around her when Art, Stan, and Lottie are trying to persuade her to take the role, and her character is sufficiently rounded for Brooks to be able to impart some feeling of perceptivity.
As Dick Paulichuk, the exotic dancer who is hired as leading man, Eli Gabay brought the physique required by his role.
The acting energy was enhanced by cartoon boom, bonk, crash, and whiz sounds, which were just part of the technical effects that the $500,000 production used. Probably least among the mechanical effects was Fluffy, the cat, who is of course credited in the titles at the beginning of the play as "Fluffy -- as herself."
Movie references vary from Groucho Marx -- "Why, you're one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen, and <>
that's not saying much" -- to A Streetcar Named Desire, as Stan and Art try to deal with the strains of movie-making. The set was framed in a 1950s-style border, nicely evoking the era of the B-movie.
The show was well worth the $27.50-$37.50 tickets, and with a student rate of $15 it should not be missed.