Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am in love with Jeremy Piven. Love love love. He is about a foot too short for me but (reader, please) a girl can deal. He did me proud in this short, sassy little Hollywood play that my big sister Laura and I smiled all the through last night. Love.

Piven stars with Elizabeth Moss, from my beloved West Wing, and Raul Eparaza, who absolutely holds in own against the dynamo that is Ari Gold.

Okay, Piven doesn't actually play Ari Gold in Speed-the-Plow, I realize this. But he might as well have. Its the same role...the same testosterone laced ego, the pointed glances, the jarring inflections. That Piven played Bob Gould as Ari Gold wasn't an error, and most certainly not a disappointment. There is no doubt Piven's scale as an actor--three Emmy's, thank you very much. Its just that this is Piven's playground. No one else could have nailed the Hollywood He-Man with the same satisfying gusto. Ari he needed to be.

Speed-the-Plow is a swift 90 minute battle--three scenes, no intermission--between art and commerce. Piven and Eparaza hold commerce in their greedy Hollywood trenches, knowing full well that money, fame, and glory stand as prizes. It isn't art, Piven thunders... its not supposed to be! But alas. In walks the girl, clutching art as her moral compass. And there lies the story.

Moss does a gorgeous job with the subtlety of her character's humor... after all, she does represent goodness in this tale. But with goodness comes naivety, and with naivety comes the brunt of many-a-joke (and as the case may be, a bet on the likelihood of Piven sleeping with her). Moss owns this. Her lines center around the reading and analyzing aloud of an Eastern text that she wishes to be made into a movie. That she needs to be made into a movie... for art's sake of course.

We listen to passages of this book for what must have been pages and pages of the second scene. When we think we are finally through with her heartfelt argument, she grasps the text again-- one last hope to convince these two hoodlums of joining forces with good, not evil. When finished reading a bizarre passage on bells and showers and rain with the utmost of her honor, she pauses for just two beats and retracts... 'wait, that was the wrong part...' Brilliant.

Piven is completely convincing in what becomes his own inner battle of right and wrong, good and evil, art and commerce. We love his selfish yet realistic ambitions at the start of the play, then actually flip to believe that he will turn his back on all of it at the opening of the third scene. Finally, Eparaza stands in as reason, a violent reaction to the mush of crazy art talk.

This is where the play accomplishes an extremely difficult task in not asking us, or letting us, choose sides. We are as baffled as Piven, who at one climactic point turns away from the other two and states in jaded comedic defeat, 'I am so confused.' So are we. At this point, no one knows which side to join, which banner to wave. Its Eparaza, in the end, who sets everything straight, as reason often will. We leave content and completely satisfied, another impossible task firmly accomplished after a 90 minute moral debate.

Although- this script and these actors didn't take the content too seriously. Thats the unholy beauty of it all--they didn't actually ask us to do so either. It was light and funny and extremely smart which convinces me that theater---that art (ah ha!)--will always come out on top.

1 comment:

Jen Pasko said...

Sounds like your B-day weekend was Fabulous....can't wait to hear more about the show. I swear have you thought about movie/theater reviews?