I wasn’t going to write about the play BABE I saw the other night, because frankly I was too sleepy these days from waking up every hour on the hour, but then I made the mistake of reading the LA Times review yesterday. He began the piece with Where Have All the Theater Goers Gone!! With boring, esoteric reviews like that I can tell you where they went. So my take now.
THE CAST: Four characters, three actors, with actress Wylie Andersen doing double duty as the pissed off millennial Kaitlyn and the now dead 80s rock star Cat. The other two are baby boomers somewhat past their working prime, but still hanging on, some by a thread. The acting was absolutely superb. Sal Viscuso’s Gus, as the everyman of today’s politically incorrect white old guy cursing a lot was just spot on. He was so funny, but well only if you understood he comes from a time long ago. But the character that steals the show is Abigail played by Julie Dtezin. She was just perfect in this role. She plays Gus’s long time, sometimes a lesbian, partner in the A & R business of music. Did she always get the credit she deserved? No. Could he have done it all without her? No. Do they both know that? Yes.
THE PRODUCTION/THE PLAYERWRIGHT: I don’t know much about playwright Jessica Goldberg other than, according to her bio, she had something to do with Parenthood. Note to the folks who are doing these playbills, be clear as to credits please. The production. This is the Echo Theater group with Chris Fields at the helm. There has not been a play at this theater in at least five years attendance that has ever disappointed. They are just masterful at picking the plays here, always timely, always relevant and always, always honest and true to the human condition, not some made up media politically correct version of it. I love this theater. I love what they did with the simple staging using these really cool colorful posters behind the simple chairs to depict if they were in the record company office, or the hospital or Abby’s home. It worked. With the character of Kaitlyn playing two roles, there was a lot of clothing changes that had to go on at the sides of the stage. That was fine and didn’t distract at all. You understood what was coming.
THE PLOT: A couple of 70 something big time baby boomers running the A & R department of a record label. There big claim to fame is a now dead rockstar who comes to life in flashbacks. They hire a new 30 something millennial to work for them. The generation gap that ensues between the old white guy and the young white girl with precision, is neither totally correct nor totally wrong . Abigal, the elder woman, becomes the referee between the ME TOO generation and the old boys’ club. Add to the mix her current bout with cancer and an attraction to Kaitlyn and we are off to the races.
THE THEATER: I love the Echo Theater in Atwater Village. It’s on delightful tree lined street. It has a lovely courtyard you can sit outside and wait for the plays to begin. It’s comfortable and right next door is a fantastic restaurant called MOMED. It’s the only place for miles so makes the dining choice a breeze.
MY TAKE: I loved this play, I loved everything about it. I love when a play doesn’t take sides but rather gives you a real depiction of situations without proselytizing or judgement. We have a full-on generation gap today between baby boomers and millennials, like it or not. It’s the same one really that baby boomers had with their 50s parents with a few twists. We see the point of view of both these generations. Abigail, though, is the true hero here. She is the lightening rod that shows these misguided millennials how wrong they are about the women who forged the path for them decades ago. It may not have been to Kaitlyn’s liking, but like it or not, Abigail did have a seat at the old boys’ table for many decades. Why? Because number one she had true talent and in the arts that counts for more than a list of equal opportunity demands set forth by the less talented. She may have had regrets on a lot of the things she had to put up with, but she did it for the sake of the art. That’s a lot different than dealing with the same issues in an investment bank. We have to stop apologizing for history, but rather learn from it. This penchant for removing remnants of actual things that happened in our history is so misguided and caters to the millennial delusion really. I love this play because it simply depicts each side as to who they really are without apologizing nor condemning either generation. As long as the depiction is honest and true and this spot on, it’s a hit with me!