Not always, but most of the time, the quality that keeps me at arms’ length from plays by Neil LaBute is that, though he purports to present us with adult characters, they always seem to me to be playing out adolescent issues; they seem not only immature (which, heaven knows, adults can be) but callow as well.
That’s not a problem with his latest, The Money Shot, a production of his NY home company MCC (per usual at the Lucille Lortel), because in this one, the whole point is the rampant superficiality that can often pervade and dominate the Hollywood life style and film industry.
Because it’s a 90 minute play with no ‘mish, and depends on its impact for discovery of the characters’ motivations, and irony in how the evening plays out, I’m loath to say too much except a few basics. Bev (Callie Thorne) a film editor, has bent her schedule out of shape to make time for this dinner at the home she shares with her lover Karen (Elizabeth Reaser)—actually, reverse that, it’s the home Karen shares with Bev; Karen is, after all, the move star. And though that star hasn’t faded, her career isn’t quite what it was. Neither is that of Steve (Fred Weller); and so he has come with his deceptively simple-seeming new, younger wife Missy (Gia Crovatin) in tow. They’ve all gathered to discuss the plans Karen and Steve have to boost their box office.
Though The Money Shot isn’t a farce in the sense of employing mistaken identity, multiple doors and ever-more-tightly knotted complications, it does indeed have the build of a well-constructed farce and does indeed lead to a catharsis of action and surprise, as one Hollywood absurdity becomes piled upon another—with the biggest surprise of all, I suppose, being that all of it seems entirely credible!
Under the direction of Terry Kinney, the quartet of actors showcase the best kind of fearlessness, the kind farce demands, and they dive right into…I was going to say the deep end of the pool, but in more ways than one, this play is about shallow ends. But you know what I mean.
Or maybe you don’t. But let The Money Shot enlighten you. Which it will. One way or another…
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