It is hard to appreciate ‘The Scene,’ Thersea Rebeck’s darkly satirical play set against New York’s hyper TV and acting professions, on stage at Writers Theatre.
Chicago stage and TV actor Deanna Myers is so good at playing the obnoxious Clea, an ambitious, amoral, vacuous young woman who recently moved to New York, that it is difficult to understand how she can attract the play’s two male characters.
Another question is what is her game? They can’t do anything for her career. She eventually ends up working for someone who can. He’s Nick, a guy not seen on stage but who is doing a TV pilot.
The two males, Charlie (Mark L. Montgomery) and Lewis (La Shawn Banks) even talk about how dumb Clea is and how she doesn’t seem to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation when they meet her at an upscale party.
Charlie, a once successful actor who has been out of work for a while, is at the party to network and discuss the pilot with Nick. Lewis comes along as Charlie’s friend.
They both seemed turned off by Clea’s constant use of such phrases as “you know,” “like really” and “it’s surreal.” But they admit she’s pretty and they like her sexy, black dress and heels.
The next difficult-to-comprehend thread is the motivation behind Clea’s destruction of Charlie and his marriage. She aggressively goes after him with lascivious language and actions at Lewis’ apartment, Charlie’s apartment while his wife is working, and then, at her flat.
It’s not hard to believe Charlie, in need of some ego massaging, as having a fling with a girl who at first makes him feel strong and sexy. There are lots of novels and plays about males experiencing a midlife crisis.
Charlie’s wife, Stella (Charin Alverez), successful in a high stress TV job that she hates, pays their bills. She encourages Charlie to do lunch with Nick but her character is not mean and does not put him down.
Even after Charlie moves in with Clea, Stella still wants him to come home. He doesn’t, so when Clea kicks him out Charlie ends up homeless.
The problem is that when the play ends at another party with an almost disastrous confrontation between Charlie and Clea, it hasn’t built up enough empathy for the characters and their situations.
Maybe it’s the play or maybe it is this production, but it’s hard to care about ‘The Scene.’