What won’t an actor do to be cast in a mega Hollywood movie by a legendary film director? What will he have to endure? Will he be willing to give up two years of his life for what might just be a pipe dream? Will he have the stamina to survive?
All these questions and more are brought up in this heady, well written new play by Christopher Shinn receiving its World-Premiere at The Vineyard Theatre.
Actors be forewarned: If you see PICKED it might send you directly into therapy or over the precipice that Kevin (Michael Stahl-David) so fears. Kevin is a sensitive actor, aiming for truth and honesty in all that he does. He has a girl friend, Jen (Liz Stauber) a fellow actor who supports him even though he prefers taking a bath than having sex with her. Kevin has trouble mingling. He doesn’t want fame. He wants only to be truthful. Be careful what you wish for.
He meets with John (Mark Blum) a director who almost never allows anyone else to finish a sentence, is overpowering, speaks in sexual metaphors and is looking to cast an unknown in a new sci-fi movie where the same actor will play the Captain and the Robot on a ship into outer space.
The movie has yet to be written. John will use in depth interviews – delving deep into the psyche of the person cast, neuroimaging, and other technical devices to create his screenplay. Picking the guys brain, so to speak, while manipulating him to the fullest extent of his own laws.
In the middle of filming, John suggests that Kevin only play The Captain and brings in another actor Nick (Tom Lipinski) who lost out, came in second for Kevin’s part in the original round of auditions. They meet. They bond. Is there some homo-eroticism lurking beneath their cool exteriors?
Director Michael Wilson does an exemplary job of keeping us in the dark yet interested as to where all of this is heading while coaxing great performances from his cast. It’s a long journey and will leave you wondering about why actors submit themselves to such rejection, marching on to the next audition to achieve – what?
The set design by Rachael Hauck is grey and sleek – as in matters of the esoteric mind, with four white chair that are rearranged for the various locations. Subdued sound deign by Jill BC DuBoff and appropriate costumes by Mattie Ullrich and exceptional lighting design by Russell H. Champa aid in the telling of this in depth look at an actor, his relationships and his ability to remain sane while dealing with his not getting another job after his supposedly break-through performance in a film that doesn’t reward actors but special effects.
Donna Hanover as a TV Personality and Casting Director lends a reality TV aspect to the production.
I couldn’t help thinking – James Cameron meets James Dean.
www.vineyardtheatre.org Photo: Carol Rosegg
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