A biting farcical brush is painted over Hollywood’s elite in Neil Labute’s newest play, The Money Shot. Karen(Elizabeth Reaser) and Steve(Fred Weller) are desperately trying to hold on to their careers and in doing so, put the relationships with their respective partners, Bev(Callie Thorne) and Missy(Gia Crovatin), and any remaining self-respect, at risk. Directed by Terry Kinney, the show both elicits non-stop laughter and thoughtful silence at all the right beats.
The cast shines onstage. It is not a least bit surprising that these actors portrayed their whinier, ego driven characters with an aplomb that can only mean they intimately know the characters they are playing. Elizabeth Reaser(The Twilight Saga) both manages to make fun of herself and “aging” actresses in general as the flighty, dramatic femme. At once calm and collected, at others on the floor in hysterics, she is diva incarnate with a flair that is hard pressed not to enjoy. Fred Weller(Mother and Sons) begins the show as a macho, self-possessed, blustering male, eager to explain away his age with his much younger wife, Missy, and ends the show a great deal more thoughtful than he started when his ignorance becomes too much for Bev, who takes him down several feet of pegs. Weller is fantastic. He drives the script along with the force of an oncoming train, but the points where he really shines are the almost muttered lines of stupidity that are the real catalyst for the tension onstage. Callie Thorne(“Necessary Roughness”; ...Judas Iscariot) was by far the most comfortable onstage. She was so interesting to watch, even when she was silent. Her character refuses to allow even the slightest misinformation slide with Weller while she battles with Reaser regarding their private life. Gia Crovatin(reasons to be pretty) provides much enjoyed humor as the flighty, yet oddly touching younger woman. Trying to be a good wife to misogynistic Weller, her character actually sees the most growth in the play. The least jaded of the group, Crovatin is by no means overshadowed by her more experienced scene partners, but instead delivers quips and cheerleading with the enthusiasm of fresh talent. To say that this cast was perfectly suited to play their counterparts would be an understatement.
As a southern California native, I was pleasantly surprised at the nuances in the play. The set design was beautifully done by Derek McLane, with sound design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, costumes by Sarah J. Holden, lighting design by David Weiner and stage managed by Christine Lemme.
Review By: Aziza Seven
Photos By: Joan Marcus