Fast Actin' Relief Actors, playwrights build six plays in 24 hours, then stage them for charityBY AMY LAROCCA | NEW YORK MAGAZINE
Obviously, no one has felt much like going to a party lately, and most social events have been canceled or postponed. In their place, benefits have provided a welcome opportunity to take a break from CNN, connect with friends, and help a good cause. On September 24, Planet Impact and Workhouse Publicity held an event, the 24-Hour Plays, benefiting Working Playground, an organization that brings arts education to public schools. Six plays were written, rehearsed, and performed in one day. The actors met with the writers at ten o'clock the night before to discuss their unwritten roles. "I have no problem bringin' in the noise or the funk," Benjamin Bratt told everyone, "but I don't want to wear a suit.” The writers wrote all night. The actors came back at 8:30 in the morning and started rehearsing. Outside the Minetta Lane Theatre an hour before showtime, Mary-Louise Parker, Natasha Lyonne, and Robert Sean Leonard ran lines while Philip Seymour Hoffman snuck a cigarette. Scarlet Johansson huddled with Brendan Sexton III, and Liev Schreiber towered over the crowd. "I can't believe you learned your lines so fast!" someone said to Kyra Sedgwick. "Me neither," she laughed. Robert De Niro came to watch his daughter, Drena De Niro. Backstage, as the packed house cheered, the cast found itself in tears.
By Francine Russo | Village Voice XXX Love Act By Cintra Wilson Ohio Theatre 66 Wooster Street With Jennifer Esposito, Nadine Stenovitch, Shea Whigham, Adam Nelson, Thomas Pasley, Daniel Reinisch
Sex. Drugs. Money. Murder. When a real-life story has all these elements, it cries out for a spot on the stage, thinks the inspired play wright. Two brothers, bound by love, blood, and a porn empire then fractured by fratricide. The story is irresistible, but, like the tale it tells, is riddled with temptations and traps.
In XXX Love Act, San Francisco columnist/performer/playwright Cintra Wilson has heeded the si ren call of the story of Jim and Artie Mitchell, who built an erotic theater empire in San Francisco, which ended with Jim's murder of Artie. Their story is so lurid that it requires restraint to rein it in and imagination to mine its depths.
To tell the saga of the brothers here called Manny and Randy Wilson creates a pair of narrators, Gunther and Reinholdt, who are sometime sex partners and brothers in sleaze. In the garish light of a red bulb overhung with fringed umbrella, Gunther, in goggles and warm-up suit, delivers Randy's eulogy, teeming with imagery of the underbelly, extolling "the guy's aura like a fungus."
We flash back to scnes of the adolescent brothers in tie-dye drooling over a porno movie. We watch the charismatic Randy lead his dopey brother Manny toward a scheme of making an operatic skin flick to take to Cannes, and, fol lowing its failure, create a wildly successful erotic theater. We see them hook up romantically with their "stars" and we observe Ran dy's fall into drugs and creative burnout and Manny's rise to mar riage, respectability, and corporate management skills.
Weaving Gunther's literary nar ration and Reinholdt's medita tions on bondage with surreal scenes of babes in bridal veils and orgies with light bubbles and disco music, director Troy Hollar's stag ing projects the satyric energy suggested by their "chorus" 's richly seamy metaphors.
But the more literal scenes of the two brothers falter. Instead of deepening and developing, their relationship flattens into banal surface and cliches. And the ac tors do not rise above the limiting script. Shea Whigham's Randy is a Harvey Keitel Bad Lieutenant wannabe, and Daniel Reinisch's Manny is first dopey, then bland. By the time the shot rings out, we have long ceased being interested in the brothers or believing in the reality of their relationship.
Yet what surrounds them is provocative, especially Thomas Pasley and Adam Nelson's snaky smoothness as Gunther and Reinholdt.
Wilson has been captivated by the idea of brothers, but has not given it flesh or depth. As the plot descends into decadence, shooting, for example, is called "the ultimate act of penetration."
Yeah. But the best parts of Love Act laugh at the lunacy. There's a very funny sequence where Randy directs a lesbian love fest, complete with brandished pitchfork. And there are scenes of, um, audience participation (under rain coats), where Gunther and Reinholdt come noisily-in one case with water pistols, in another with flashlights. The literal masturbation in Love Act is dramatized with fine control and a sense of irony, but the piece is ultimately brought down by the uncontrolled and unintended masturbatory quality of the vision.