By Scott Brooks; Directed by Jenny Greeman
BOTTOM LINE: A writer sells his soul in this “bromance” meets “frenemies” story.
It takes a special breed of character to continue pursuing a career in the arts. It takes courage and conviction, ambition and talent, and of course, it takes money. Lots and lots of money. Especially in Hollywood. ScreenPlay
, by Scott Brooks, follows the lives of three best friends who went to film school together. Fifteen years after graduation, none of them are making movies. That is until one of them becomes a multimillionaire.
Dean (Jonathan Sale), the most talented of the trio, is miserable in a dead-end graphic design job. Suzie (Heather Dilly), the one at the center of the unrequited love triangle, is a travel consultant searching for a purpose. And Graham (Brooks), the A-student, ends up filthy rich from a dot-com idea. When the three reunite, Graham reveals that he wants to take his millions and become a movie producer. After a night of partying and reminiscing, Dean shares with his friends his latest screenplay, The Conductor, which previously he had only shared with his fiancee, Lisa (Diana DeLaCruz), and his sock drawer. Immediately Graham recognizes the potential in The Conductor to become “the next Schindler’s List,” (something Lisa earlier tried desperately to convince Dean of). Graham wants to produce the movie but there is a catch -- he wants to take credit as screenwriter. Dean, who is broke and struggling to make ends meet, sells his screenplay and his byline for $250,000 only to find he has sold more than what he bargained for when the movie is a hit and nominated for an Academy Award.
Brooks explores this tale of rivalry and friendship with the comedic sensibilities of a good bromance flick. The plot is plausible with just enough Hollywood “what if” manipulation to make it interesting. Brooks’ writing reflects a modern sense of comedy. It’s observational with a hint of self deprecation, mixed with just enough arrogance to balance it out -- basically, like any of the movies Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson make. Sale’s performance is simple and straightforward, he understands how to play this brand of comedy and gives a genuine believability to the character of Dean. Dilly is fun to watch, though sometimes she goes a little overboard (even for her over-the-top character).
Graham is jealous of Dean’s talent, Dean is jealous of Graham’s constant, undeserved, good fortune, and they are both jealous of each other over the girl. ScreenPlay
moves through a series of flashbacks, aided by a set-design technique involving opening and closing screen doors and projected words on screens, as the memories of this story unfold through the screenwriter’s mind. It’s fittingly easy to see how this play could translate from the stage to the silver screen -- of course, that would take lots and lots of money.
plays at 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street, between Madison & Park Avenues, through February 6, 2011. Performances are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:15PM, Thursdays and Fridays at 8:15PM, Saturdays at 2:15PM and 8:15PM, and Sundays at 3:15PM. The Sunday, January 16th performance (Opening Night) is at 7:15PM; there is no matinee. Tickets are $35 ($24.50 for 59E59 Members) and are available by calling Ticket Central at 212.279.4200 or at 59e59.org