×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Turnaround

Scripter-helmer Roger Kumble ("Cruel Intentions," "The Sweetest Thing") takes great delight in gnawing on the hand that feeds him. His latest legit effort completes his trilogy of Hollywood tales ("Pay or Play," "D-Girl"), chronicling the sordid life and times of bottom-feeding writer-director Jeff Pelzman.

With:
Gary - Tom Everett Scott Jeff - David Schwimmer Richie - Jonathan Silverman Seth - John DiMaggio Sahara - Jaime Ray Newman

Scripter-helmer Roger Kumble (“Cruel Intentions,” “The Sweetest Thing”) takes great delight in gnawing on the hand that feeds him. His latest legit effort completes his trilogy of Hollywood tales (“Pay or Play,” “D-Girl”), chronicling the sordid life and times of bottom-feeding writer-director Jeff Pelzman. “Friends” regular David Schwimmer, who portrayed Jeff in 1997’s “D-Girl,” once again oozes into the persona of the monumentally self-involved showbiz leech who is quite willing to obliterate his own soul and those of his best friends to salvage his dead end career. This time out, a little less would have been more. Though he has wrought a finely crafted, often hilarious glimpse into the subterranean machinations of Jeff and company, Kumble could strengthen his premise with some judicious editing, especially in the overstated second act.

Blessed with an excellent ensemble that simply wallows in Kumble’s unsavory folk, the first act focuses on the substance abuse tribulations of writer wannabe Gary (Tom Everett Scott). Though he has actually managed to turn out a screenplay, Gary is totally helpless in dealing with the everyday requirements of life.

Gathered at Gary’s Hollywood Hills pad, his lifelong friends Jeff and Richie (Jonathan Silverman) swirl about him in comically cruel rounds of one-upmanship. Jeff’s latest film has just tanked; producer Richie has five “go” projects in the works.

Kumble impressively guides the interaction among the three. It is easy to believe these mid-30s juveniles have known each other for 15 years, needing each other for mutual support but always cognizant of who’s ahead in their ravenous quest for success and affirmation.

Scott exudes the terror-filled bravado of a life-ravaged loser whose nerve ends have become completely exposed. Schwimmer captures perfectly the deceptively low-keyed persona of Jeff, who cannot help but seethe at the strutting, forever name-dropping antics of Richie (played with gleeful abandon by Silverman), whom he considers his intellectual and aesthetic inferior.

Integrated within the Gary/Jeff/Richie machinations is their hilarious encounter with Gary’s hooker-for-the-night Sahara, played with a captivating blend of sensuality and intelligence by Jaime Ray Newman. She reduces all of them to the children they really are. Also effective is the understated portrayal of John DiMaggio as intervention facilitator Seth, who just may be Gary’s last hope for survival.

Two months later, on the day a tenuously clean-and-sober Gary returns to his abode from a rehab facility, the second act shifts the focus to Jeff, who is on the verge of spinning Gary’s screenplay into gold. The only thing standing in his way is a thoroughly transformed Gary, a less than supportive Richie and Seth, who has the temerity to be thinking only about Gary’s wellbeing. Schwimmer’s Jeff is awe-inspiring in his laser-like need to win, no matter what gets sacrificed in the process.

Kumble makes his point with savage clarity but seems so enamored with the action, he pummels the premise to excess. End result is more relief that the bombardment has stopped than a true resolution.

The play is blessed with first-rate production designs, especially Greg Grande’s sumptuous bachelor digs, highlighted by a spectacular view of the Hollywood sign. The lights and sounds of Christie Wright and Eric Pargac, respectively, perfectly underscore the action. And the costumes of Julie Heath do much to reinforce the individual personalities of the ensemble, particularly Schwimmer’s ominously upscale second-act black attire.

Turnaround

Coast Playhouse; 99 seats; $30 top

Production: A Dark Harbor Stories presentation of a play in two acts, written and directed by Roger Kumble.

Creative: Sets, Greg Grande; lights, Christie Wright; sound, Eric Pargac; costumes, Julie Heath. Opened Jan. 22, 2003; reviewed Jan. 25; closes March 2. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Cast: Gary - Tom Everett Scott Jeff - David Schwimmer Richie - Jonathan Silverman Seth - John DiMaggio Sahara - Jaime Ray Newman

More Legit

  • Sutton Foster

    Sutton Foster Starring Opposite Hugh Jackman in Broadway's 'The Music Man'

    “The Music Man” has found its Marian, the librarian. Sutton Foster, the two-time Tony Award winner, will star opposite Hugh Jackman in the upcoming revival of “The Music Man.” She will play Marian Paroo, a small-town librarian who is initially immune to Professor Harold Hill’s charms. It’s a role that was previously performed by the [...]

  • 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama' Review

    L.A. Theater Review: 'Black Super Hero Magic Mama'

    What function do superhero stories play in American society? Are they merely escapist distractions for head-in-the-clouds teens, or could those same formats actually serve a practical function, providing useful tools for everyday life? Recognizing these comic book fantasies as by far the dominant form of contemporary mythmaking for a generation of young people, emerging playwright [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Ain't Too Proud review

    Broadway Review: 'Ain't Too Proud'

    In the wake of the long-running “Jersey Boys” and the short-lived “Summer,” director Des McAnuff is back on Broadway with another show built around the song catalog of a music act — and although “Ain’t Too Proud” has all the right sounds and slick moves, this bio-musical of the R&B vocal group the Temptations is [...]

  • 'White Noise' Theater Review: Suzan-Lori Parks

    Off Broadway Review: Daveed Diggs in 'White Noise'

    Any new play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (“Topdog / Underdog”) demands — and deserves — attention. And in its premiere production at the Public Theater, her latest, “White Noise,” opens with a burst of brainy energy that lasts through the first act. But it takes a nosedive in the sloppy second half, [...]

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content