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    Monday, August 21, 2006

    An enjoyable evening

    Tonight was a nice change of pace for me. My friend Jessica and her husband Joel invited me to a play reading. The play was "Don't Blame Me I Voted For Helen Gahagan Douglas." It was a small affair of about 50 people in a small black box theatre in Santa Monica, oddly enough on Main street and I place I'd often walked by and wondered exactly what it was that went on there. The play was co-written by a friend of his. I hadn't been to a play reading or a table reading of any sort in a long time. If the material is accessible and interesting, which this was, they can be quite enjoyable. It's primarily a performance given by actors seated in chairs with stands for the script. While the direction is limited and no one is truly off book, they give a wonderful feeling for how the dialogue and breaks work, and can act as a showcase for possible improvement as well as possible investment interest to mount actual staged versions of the work.

    The play was written by Wendy Kout and Michelle Willens about the life of Helen Gahagan Douglas. Though I had heard the name or read it at some point on some list of famous American women, I truly didn't know the story or historical aspect, let alone the importance, of her life and activities. Though there were more than four parts, the actors were kept to four and all of them did a wonderful job, with what I can only assume was very little time for rehearsal and preparation. It was directed by Michael Pressman. The cast included:

    Wendie Malick - Helen Gahagan Douglas
    Charles Shaughnessy - Melvyn Douglas
    Charle Adler - Everyone Else
    And an actor whose name I have unfortunately forgotten playing Nixon. The only reason I've forgotten his name is that he was added last minute since the original actor had gotten a Pilot and was unable to make the performance. The actor who portrayed Nixon had done so before in a reading of the same play in NY and so had been brought out to fill in. He did an uncanny visual mimicry of Nixon as well as lent a fine performance to the evening.

    The play itself, while informative and entertaining often felt as though the humor overpowered the importance of the information. I understand why it was used; it makes the digestion of the facts of Mrs. Douglas’s life easier and doesn’t allow for things such as The Great Depression, WWII, McCarthyism to overshadow her and her achievements as the primary focal point. I can also say it only lagged in a very few places and that I’d have to see it or read it one more time to be more constructive in my thoughts about it. I do however now believe that Helen Gahagan Douglas is someone for whom we should all be aware.

    After the play we came back to Westwood and wandered around a bit until we found a place to eat. LA has a bit of a problem with restaurants staying open after 9:30 PM. But as luck would have it, we wound up at a perfectly enjoyable place called Shamshiri Grill that wasn't going to close for another 15 minutes.

    All in all it was one of the more enjoyable evenings that I've had since I've been here.

    1 comment:

    The lovely and the talented said...

    Wow, Shane Donovan from Days of our Lives. Cool!