Supposedly, His Greatness written by Daniel Macivor – about an aging, southern, genteel playwright that likes angelic young men, booze and drugs not necessarily in that particular order; who is having a hard time of it writing anything new or revisiting his older works for a new audience is not about Tennessee Williams. Could have fooled me.
In this intriguing and well scripted three character play which is one of the better productions at Fringe Festival 2009, images of Mr. Williams grace the cover of the program with this inscription “inspired by a potentially true story about playwright Tennessee Williams”. It really doesn’t matter. It’s a work that can stand on its own as an in depth character study of three gay men thrust together by circumstances of their own making. It makes for a very interesting two act entertainment.
Yes, it is entertaining despite the overall sadness and bitterness inherent in their lives. It could be subtitled, Hangover in Vancouver. The Playwright (Peter Goldfarb) is there with his assistant of fifteen years, former muse and lover (Dan Domingues) for the opening night of his new opus that failed miserably in London. The assistant knows his boss all too well and has hired a young looking hustler (Michael Busillo) to escort his boss to the play and to play with his boss afterwards in the hotel room where the action is set.
The playwright is very high maintenance and their back and forth barbs remind one of Auntie Mame and Vera Charles – surface bitchiness covering true affection just below. The playwright speaks floridly, almost like a poet. His assistant zings into the truth and truly wants to help until the dumb young hustler appears to be taking over his role in the playwright’s real life drama. Who is manipulating whom? Which one is “His Greatness’? Who is really in charge? How will it all play out?
It’s very nicely directed by Tom Gualtieri who manages the mood swings beautifully and smoothly. Peter Goldfarb is all ego and denial, treating his assistant like a lackey one moment and then tender with him the next. It’s a very well defined performance sprinkled with humor and pathos. You sense his magnetism and fear at the loss of his gifts as a writer. As his assistant, Dan Domingues is all a flutter with his sarcastic albeit truthful observations and at odds with his desire to leave or to stay. His comic timing is excellent in dealing with his boss and the new boy toy that he has brought into their lives. Michael Busillo the third member of this bizarre ménage a trois is like a feral cat on the run – looking for any opportunity and once found pounces on it with his sexual prowess. He’s just interested in going to Hollywood and meeting Warren Beatty or starring in a porn film or having that play written for him that is promised by the older gentleman before it’s too late.
Playwright, Daniel Macivor makes a point about critics here. After the two bad reviews come out, The Young Man doesn’t understand some words but wants to fight back, declaring war on all those who judge. I try not to judge but to enlighten. Write about what I’ve seen and have the reader decide if they want to go or not. In this case I’ll give a little nudge and suggest you see this one at The Cherry Lane Theatre.