About half way through the dismal 80 minute “Desperate Writers” – by Joshua Grenrock and Catherine Schreiber who also appears as one of their imagined Hollywood producers Jessica Vane (read vain) I wondered and hoped that scenic designer Lauren Helpern had been well paid for her well apportioned split level Hollywood Hills home that is sleek, modern and artificial – the one bright spot of the production.
As it turns out, a rental property that is about to be sold leaving our two main characters who have been trying for the past ten years to get a screenplay “From God’s Mouth” – a romantic comedy featuring the Mets, The Yankees and a lottery ticket – read and produced – out in the cold or the smog or the sunshine – as if it mattered.
Ashley (Maddie Corman) is a terrific cook/caterer and wants to get married and have a child but her long time writing partner and lover David (Jim Stanek) a terrific pet photographer wants to wait until he has “all his ducks in a row” meaning “making a deal” for their screenplay. The expression “When Pigs Fly” comes to mind.
And so, desperate as they are, three high profile producers are kidnapped and imprisoned in a make shift jail cell set up in their living room where a Real Estate agent pops in every so often with potential buyers – on Halloween no less. Still with me?
Maybe this worked in Hollywood where “Desperate Writers” was first produced with all its Hollywood “in-jokes” and proliferation of Yiddish-isms, and a stab at skewering the jaded HW producer types: The aging yet perennial youthful looking lothario Danny Burke (Christopher Durham) the obnoxious overweight man of a thousand Yiddish expressions Leo Goldberg (Bob Ari) and the already mentioned Jessica Vane (Catherine Schreiber) – a trio of back stabbing phonies.
And so Ashley serves them a gourmet meal and David reads and enacts their “baby”. The entire screenplay which only makes it obvious why it has never been produced in the ten years that they have been dreaming of their Oscar.
None of this is remotely funny. Ridiculous, yes, funny, no. Masks and guns and Botox do not a comedy make. At best it’s an elongated Saturday Night Live skit that might even be cut from the final run through.
Pauletta Washington is their not very helpful agent Vanessa. Bedecked in outlandish outfits (Stephen Donovan) she calls them every so often from locations where it is nigh impossible to hear her as she changes times of meetings and gives them the old pep rally – “Be Optimistic” spiel.
Vayu O’Donnell, Kelsey Nash and Susan Louise O’Connor play a series of cameos making a great effort to make sense of all this nonsense. A losing battle.
Kay Cole is the director of record. Not helping matters much she is fond of the freeze frame effect. Performed without an intermission for obvious reasons. At The Union Square Theatre.
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