You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Surviving David

Popular thesp David Graf (Eugene Tacklebery in the "Police Academy" films) suffered a fatal heart attack while attending his brother-in-law's wedding in 2001. "Surviving David" is Kathryn Graf's cathartic exploration of a young widow's struggle to find her equilibrium in the months that followed.

Popular thesp David Graf (Eugene Tacklebery in the “Police Academy” films) suffered a fatal heart attack while attending his brother-in-law’s wedding in 2001. “Surviving David” is Kathryn Graf’s cathartic exploration of a young widow’s struggle to find her equilibrium in the months that followed. Under the creative guidance of helmer Tony Sears, Graf offers a compelling glimpse into her struggle to deal with unrelenting grief, while struggling to maintain some sense of familial normalcy for her two young children. Though Graf’s narrative gets murky and her interpretation of the men in her life exudes more caricature than character, she is a convincing storyteller who has impressively distilled her very personal experience into a viable evening of theatre.

Dressed quite casually in sweater and slacks, Kathryn Graf exudes an attractive, relaxed camaraderie as she launches into a brief history of her 20-year relationship with the hearty, good-natured actor she met when she was in her early 20s, interning at a summer theater festival. As if to set up the intensity of her future struggles, Graf’s depiction of her relationship with her husband is that of a being a helpful satellite to a larger-than-life, take-charge personality who prided himself on providing for all his family’s needs. Graf also injects a bit of the resentment she felt that David’s robust involvement in his career, his union work and myriad other projects, left her with a lot of the drudgework of keeping the family moving smoothly ahead.

It is a credit to Graf’s textured performance and Sears’ creative staging that the description of the immediate events that led up to and followed her husband’s death project a theatrical veracity that illuminates this one woman’s journey through the ultimate nightmare. Graf’s segue from the earthy gaiety she felt having a younger man appreciate her body as she danced in a skimpy, sexy black dress at a wedding reception to her mind-jarring embarrassment at how inappropriately dressed she felt while sitting in the hospital emergency room is a telling statement about how unprepared anyone is to face this ultimate tragedy.

As Graf moves her narrative forward, she certainly is not shy about chronicling all the slings and arrows that bombarded her as she attempted to cope and survive — and how often she wasn’t up to the task. She is also quite candid about how sexually needy she felt in the months following David’s death.

Graf confesses ignorance of the propensity for heart attacks in David’s family. It seems both his father and grandfather died in the same manner at the same early age of 51. This is such important information but Graf relates it almost as an afterthought. Jumbled into this section is an allusion to possible preparations David made in case he did die early, including setting up a lover for her.

Though Graf is quite appealing and often humorous in portraying many of the characters she interacted with, including her two boys; she has some trouble portraying men. From her husband down to the family friend Ron (her setup lover), all Graf’s portrayals appear as posturing monuments to testosterone rather than true personalities. Since these men are minor players in her narrative, this doesn’t detract too greatly from Graf’s compelling theatrical journey.

Surviving David

2100 Square Feet, Los Angeles; 66 seats; $20 top

Production: Two Girls Prods. presents a play in one act, written and performed by Kathryn Graf, developed by Michael Raynor. Directed by Tony Sears.

Crew: Sets, Mark Bowerman; lights, Sammie Wayne. Opened Aug. 20, 2004; reviewed Aug. 27; closes Oct 9. Running time: 75 MIN.

More Scene

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz & [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. More Reviews Concert Review: Lady Gaga Outdoes Her Other Vegas Show With Masterful 'Jazz [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content