BWW Reviews: Recognizable Local Characters Inhabit L.A. DELI, A New Comedy by Sam Bobrick
Award-winning director Walter Painter worked for a year and a half developing L.A. DELI into a full production with playwright Sam Bobrick., and now it being presented at the Marilyn Monroe Theatre in West Hollywood through April 27 on Friday and Saturday at 8pm; Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Certainly those of us who frequent any Jewish deli in Los Angeles will recognize these characters. Playwright Sam Bobrick admits some of the events in the play's 12 sketches actually happened to him, some to his friends, and some to people he just happened to be sitting next to at lunch. After working in the entertainment business for over 50 years, he's not sure which is which.
In a series of comedy sketches in which six actors play multiple characters, the audience gets a wicked and hilarious look inside show business. The cast of outrageous, shameless, and sometimes certifiable characters includes movie and TV producers, writers, directors, actors, their wives and ex-wives. It's Hollywood of rye with a side of bullsh*t, betrayal and laughs in the deli where Kathleen (Gail Matthius) waits tables and occasionally throws in one-liners putting down the outrageous claims made between patrons.
The cast features (in alphabetical order) Rachel Boller, Scott Kruse, Jeffrey Landman, Gail Matthius, Phil Proctor, and Darrin Revitz. I must admit that at times it was difficult to immediately determine who the characters were in each scene since many had similar jobs in the movie or television industry talking about similar situations. But the actors all convey the differences as the scenes play out, although sometimes not really identifying their relationship until a very cleverly written twist ending reveals all.
In The Pitch TV writer David (Scott Kruse) tries to sell his idea of a buddy, prison break movie to studio executive J.B. (Phil Proctor) who proceeds to completely change the story so it can be sold. And even though David is horrified at the prospect, the money he is promised to write the screenplay hooks him in. Money talks in Hollywood.
The Actor and the Agent pits newly HOT young actor Jimmy (Scott Kruse) against two agents (Jeffrey Landman and Phil Proctor) who both want to represent him. Kruse's character transformation was so complete, I did not realize I had just seen him as someone else!
The Big Lie pits older studio executive Harry (Phil Proctor) against his young wife, Babette (Darrin Revitz) who wants to leave him when she finds out how young he really is, revealing her desire to be a young, rich widow is more important than enjoying more years with a man who claims he loves her. Of course, this is Hollywood and Babette certainly knows her value as a trophy wife has a time limit. But really, how can she be so self-centered and not enjoy the extravagant lifestyle? Babette is shallow, but at elast she has the strength of spirit to follow her dream on her own terms.Rachel Boller's aging actress Debbie in Forever Young celebrates plastic surgery in a town obsessed with youth,
The Team pits writing partners against each other with the hard-working, office bound Arnie (Scott Kruse) threatening to leave the track-loving smoozer Jerry (Jeffrey Landman) if he does not start sharing the real work load. The twist ending reminds us that never make enemies in Hollywood because you just may have to work for that person someday.
And the transition to female studio heads who must re-vamp their production teams and lay off long-term employees is addressed in The Firing with Rachel Boller and Phil Proctor creating overly-emotional reactions to each other, made all too clear in another surprise ending!
Other scenes depicting Hollywood craziness are The Funeral, The Agent's Wife, The Contract, The Xs, and After the Screening. The theme of all 12 scenes is summed up by Kathleen, who after a dream sequence in The Waitress admits her life in Los Angeles is awful since only the dreams of other people seem to come true. Gail Matthius runs the gamut of emotions and will tug at your heartstrings as she reveals the life Kathleen left behind in Idaho to follow her acting dream in Hollywood. And in the end, we are reminded that the only person who can make your dreams come true is yourself - and that Los Angeles can be a tough row to hoe, laughing and crying all the way - and of course, singing!
The authentic deli set design by Jeffery P. Eisenmann will engulf you in memories of fatty food we should not longer eat from the moment you walk in. It would seem totally natural to walk up to the counter and order a pastrami sandwich or cheese blintz! Costumes designed by Michael Mullen allow actors to make quick changes to transform into different characters between scenes, sometimes while still onstage. Lighting design by Michael Gend, music arranged and supervised by Larry Grossman, and sound design by Chris Moscatiello.
General seating admission is $30. The running schedule is Friday and Saturday at 8pmwith matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 3pm through April 27 only. Tickets may be purchased by calling (323) 960-7738 or online at www.plays411.com/ladeli. The Marilyn Monroe Theatre at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute is located at 7936 Santa Monica Boulevard (one block west of Fairfax), in West Hollywood. Street parking is available.