by Neil LaBute
The Glittering Prize
Guy, or maybe it would be more accurate to say (Some) Guy is a writer. He's reached a kind of pinnacle, a short story in The New Yorker. Wow, let all college educated would-be writers envy him! Now he's going on a pilgrimage through America. Many would say a peverse pilgrimage.
Instead of a Stag Night before his marriage, he's going on a stag journey to search out his former girlfriends, all of whom he has dumped in one way or another, after his beginnings working in a grocery store in Seattle through to the quest finale in Los Angeles or, more accurately, Hollywood.
Our latter day (almost) chaste pilgrim (Charlie Dorfman) seems bent on extracting every exquisite ounce of experience from his budget hotel room odyssey, locking horns and messing with minds of his ex-squeezes. Women he has known previously both mentally and in the biblical sense, before he gets, in his words, "hitched".
Mom of two redhead Sam (Elly Condron), his High School sweetheart, still flushes with anger as she recalls he dumped her just before Prom Night for another Yearbook princess whom he claims was like a "sister" rather than love interest.
Good time gal Tyler (Roxanne Pallett) has an inventive way of introducing him to French cigarettes, but he left her after finishing his Masters in Illinois, while being neither quixotic enough nor villainous enough to make it as the literary character he imagines.
Then his own Mrs Robinson at Harvard, lecturer in gender studies steely Mrs Bergstrom (Carolyn Backhouse), whose husband, his college mentor, is characterised in Shakespearean terms as "a cuckold".
All this, before the ultimate link in the chain, both hotel-room-wise and career wise, Hollywood Bobbi (Carley Stenson) whom we may expect to be actress, but instead turns out to be a medic who apparently exposes his injurious way of rewriting history to suit his own clumsy literary predilections.
Guy moves through hotel rooms and past flames with an almost polygamous relish, a collector, where his words have a scriptural resonance in their cross referencing as much as being part of his self-appointed script.
At the end of the first act, TLT and her ongoing automotive companion
was willing to class this slick production and the play as merely enjoyable and well-acted with a schematic feel.
It's the deepening of the play in the second act which changed
their minds as the commercial, the political, the craft and Guy's ability
to conform to the set byways and highways leading to the Hollywood
pitch merge. It's ss if he were some latter day Mowgli methodically educated into the Law Of The Jungle in a society and craft based on the
tutor-tutee relationship. As he himself says, "Hey, I'm a quick study
For with every episode, divided by airline video projections and rock music, we look forward and backward understanding how his career has progessed. And while each woman has every reason to hate his guts and his ascension to the New Yorker where his story has cannibalised their lives they also participate in his progress towards Hollywood and seem to know they are shaping his success as they act out the stereotypes for him. .
Directed by Gary Condes, this is a production which has some very self-conscious scene changes. Yet this actually is in keeping with the feel of the writer as apprentice moving through the chain and a series of studio-like scenarios where women resign themselves to teaching him about scriptwriting stereotypes.
Guy's not especially talented, he thinks he is autonomous and is allowed to be downright sadistic and ruthless. Yet at the same time he makes all the right moves. For a play and production with skilful hurt and heft, we give a green light.