The four actors were excellent. Patricia Heaton, who plays Stella is stressed out in her career booking talent for TV shows and in the middle of trying to adopt a baby from China, Tony Shalhoub who plays the main character, Charlie, who is going through a path of self destruction and a mid life crisis is superb. He gives a soliloquy which is so brilliant that it is worth the price of admission. Christopher Van Welch, who plays Charlie’s best friend Lewis makes faces that says a thousand words but the one who seriously stole the show is a young actress named Anna Camp who plays Clea, a destructive sexy dumb blond ladder climber who ends up not being so dumb afterall. You will be hearing much more about Anna Camp in the future.
The play had many holes and frustration but the acting outweighed the script. Tony is a out of work actor who actually had a career at one point of his youth but is not just angry, bitter and frustrated with the successes of other people and having to play the game. He is disgusted by the phoniness of it all. The stars and fame that everyone aspires to. He finds himself in a 14 year marriage, supported by a woman he loves but unhappy with his life. Misery basically exudes from his body. You can see it written all over his face. His best friend Lewis sympathizes but he works, we think, because he has a sweet pad. His wife is pushing him to connect with old friends who had the ability to get him a role in their latest creations. It is humiliating, at least to Charlie. Then comes along Clea. Clea is a hot young girl who speaks like a Valley Girl who just stepped off the boat from Ohio. She is all about how to get to the top of the ladder which she eventually gets to by using what she had, a fantastic figure and an understanding of how to navigate the political climate which disgusts Charlie.
The play is actually a dark comedy about love, self loathing, hollow lives seduced by the world of media and celebrities, relationships and jealousy of money, stardom and success. There are some great lines. Some great performances. But it is just one mark away from a really good play. I can’t put my finger on it. I won’t give away the end, but if Charlie has just committed suicide in the end it would have been a much better ending for all of us.