Review by Tulis McCall
This show hits home for a lot of reasons. Anyone who has ever been disappointed, for one thing, will see that track uncovered with a delicacy that is maddening.
Kevin (Michael Stahl-David) is an up and coming actor who is recruited by John (Mark Blum) to work on a new concept of a movie. It will be based on Kevin’s real persona as revealed through brain scans. When Kevin is thinking he is speaking of something he loves, his scan may show otherwise. It is this dichotomy that will dictate the arc of the movie, and it is one that will remain untold to Kevin until the movie wraps. John wants honesty unclouded by thought.
Into this mix comes Nick (Tom Pipinski) who is an unexpected addition to the filming. He proves to be exactly what the story needs, and the emotional connection between them on and off the set is palpable. Ultimately the movie is made and everyone, including Kevin’s girlfriend Jen( Liz Stauber) moves on. Except for Kevin. He does not move on. He is stuck at the movie’s finish line because work dries up. He stops being cast, and without that approval his life goes off course. If you are not picked, whether its for the grammar school baseball team or the movie role, you are unworthy.
This is an exploration of that condition, and in the hands of Stahl-David, it becomes a masterful tale. It is also a long one, and this takes away from Mr. Shinn’s story. At times it seems that Shinn is writing at the pace of life. Realizations happen slowly. Pain takes time to reveal itself. Life choices are made carefully. This play is filled with those thoughtful moments, and they serve their purpose.
After awhile, however, they also serve to dull down the events. Everything happens at the same pace. People speak in measured tones. Upset is endured (with one exception) and the temperature of the play and its players never varies, no matter what their mouths say. Nick tells of a prior breakdown with the same intensity that he talks about having casual sex.
There is empathy a plenty here – and a dash of color would have kicked the whole thing up a notch. I need a little zip in my verisimilitude. I’m just sayin’.