The entertainment industry loves to satirize itself, from Scary Movie and Moulin Rouge to 42nd Street and the Ring’s season closer, Sweet Charity. But there is a more serious side to theatrical productions, even “serious comedic satire” like that displayed in the all-women production of Anton in Show Business.
The plot follows the lives of three actresses: Lizabette (Lindsay Levine), the annoying peppy novice, Jackey (Gayle Lopez), the jaded veteran stage actress, and Holly (Kathryn Lower), the famous television actress who is paying her dues on stage to get more coveted movie roles. They face racist directors, unnecessary sexual trysts, shady corporate sponsors, and an interruptive “audience representative” (Brooke Lynne White).
The Ring’s press release describes the play as “a comical exercise in how not to stage a classic,” a description that brings to mind lighter fare like Noises Off, except this play is really a series of pretentious lectures meant to educate us cultureless barbarians about the purpose, inner workings, and inherent chauvinism of modern theatre. Think The Vagina Monologues meets A Chorus Line. I’m not saying it’s not entertaining or well acted, just a bit preachy and not quite what it’s advertised as.
A problem vexing me about the show is when the actors are interrupted by White’s character. Who do the actors (now out of character), reacting to White, become while the director gets to stay in character? Unfortunately that’s not the only plot hole, as other subplots are introduced but never wrapped up. For example, what happened to the wager between Holly and Jacky at the beginning of the play?
I found that the technical side of this play is almost the exact opposite of The Cherry Orchard. The set was a non-descript collection of black chairs, boxes, and tables surrounded by a mainly gray audience. The lighting and sound were very good with harmless country sounds played at intermission.
Maybe I’m the wrong gender and age group to appreciate this kind of work, but do we really need a speech after the play ends on how “theatre should bring people together” to a packed house? Some of the seniors in the audience had already fallen asleep, and if the director had tacked on another sermon I probably would have joined them. Oh well, there’s always Sweet Charity…
Jonathan Twiggar can be contacted at email@example.com.