Plagued by an unwillingness to examine the issues it presents, “One of Those Days” glibly flits from topic to topic like a skittish butterfly. Playwright Rod Parker joins the ranks of those writers who construct their scripts with media in mind, in this case television. What results is a funny but somewhat vapid wannabe TV pilot.
Comedy sketch writerJosh Chamberlin (Robert Curtis-Brown) is definitely having “one of those days”: a maniac sniper grazes him with a bullet in retribution for a bit Josh penned about motherhood, his estranged wife (Eileen Seeley) drops in to tell him that she’s pregnant but doesn’t want him back, his wanderlust-plagued father (Richard Kuss) whom he idolizes–but only sees every five years–spins in and out of his life for an hour, and his Arsenio-clone producer (Dorien Wilson) fires him “for his own good,” all while a born-again police lieutenant (Rudy Ramos) tries to make him “see the light.”
Heading the likable cast, Curtis-Brown offers an engaging Josh. His “little boy lost” personality builds audience empathy in spite of the thin writing.
Scott Jaeck plays his one-legged neighbor with aplomb. Tossing in unexpected one-liners like horseshoes, Jaeck consistently hits the mark, particularly as he drowns his sorrows in a gallon of wine.
Placing Josh in a virtual tug-of-war, Kuss and Seeley make the dad and wife’s mutual disdain acutely felt. The play’s only sincere moment, brief as it may be, occurs as Josh tries to connect with his father, to no avail. Seeley’s inner conflict of love and the inability to live without communication create a tangible angst.
Ramos skillfully avoids insipidity as he attempts to provide solace to Josh, while Wilson is appropriately shallow, self-centered and fake.
Director Don Amendolia moves the play at a brisk pace and keeps the show’s action unobstructed. The beautifully expansive New York apartment belies the Matrix’s smallness thanks to Victoria Petrovich’s creative design and Michael Gilliam’s superb lighting.
Parker’s “everything happens to me” theme borrows heavily from James Kirkwood’s much superior “P.S. Your Cat Is Dead,” with the latter showing how effective a contemporary comedy can be when the objective is to write for the theater.