The Money Shot, a play by Neil Labute, directed by Joan M. Lyons, and produced by Center Stage at Southampton Cultural Center (SCC), opened Thursday January 19th at the Center’s Levitas Center for the Arts. The continuous roar of pure laughter left no doubt that this provoking and shocking play is pure comedy. The high-energy production is another clear example of why local East End theater is so worth attending.
The Money Shot centers on contemporary themes, taboos and misconceptions of the politically correct world through the eyes of four characters. Two are Hollywood actors past their prime and the other two are their spouses. The couples gather one evening to iron out an upcoming radical sex scene for a movie that is already in production. The actors are pinning their hopes that the very shocking nature of this scene will add legs to their successful Hollywood acting careers. The laughs role in from the clashing of the very diverse background cores of the four main characters as the chemistry of a gay relationship and straight relationship clash in the decision making process concerning this pivotal sex scene. All four characters take turns being the pivotal engine driving the message of this play. All four are successful and are to be applauded for their efforts at being genuine, believable, and very comedic.
Joseph Marshall stars as Steve, a 50-year-old actor feeling the pressure of being 50 in Hollywood who is starting to play the age denial game. Marshall has genuinely entertaining moments of pure politically incorrect dialogue. He can deliver a line and get the laugh. He moved around the set with good energy and at all times was in command of his character.
Tamara Salkin plays Steve’s twenty-something year old wife, Missy. She brings a lot of physical comedic acting to her portrayal of the very leggy Missy – a combination of Lucy Ricardo, Marilyn Monroe, and Paris Hilton. Her dance moment is hilarious and deserves a shout out, “well done,” Tamara Salkin.
Bonnie Grice plays Karen, the aging female Hollywood actor. Grice’s Karen is a very convincing complex symbolic character of the changing times of both today’s Hollywood and society in general. Grice is always at home in front of a crowd performing and on the set of, The Money Shot, she brings the audience into her living room and makes all viewing somehow feel invited to watch and be at ease with some of the play’s shocking dialogue. She has many high moments in the show.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is the complicated role of Bev, played by Kristin Whiting. Bev is the wife of Karen; together they expose the inner complications of gay marriage and perhaps all marriages. Whiting’s powerful performance builds like a teakettle being warmed until it explodes with pure intense steam power. Her character’s weight in moral compass grows throughout the show and is layered in raw emotion. At the end of the show, I thought Whiting’s power within the role of Bev made this production of The Money Shot a success.
As always what you see on stage is all from within the interpretation of the original play by the show’s director. Director Joan M. Lyons has the characters moving around the set with great staging that propels all the lines to be aimed at the audience. She positions the characters like a chess master, making every move, set up the next in many cases to add energy to the show.
The Money Shot can be seen at SCC until Sunday, February 5th. Performances will take place on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $22 and student (under 21 with ID) tickets are available for $12. Group rates, brunch/theater and dinner theater packages are available online or by calling. Reservations are encouraged. A dinner and theater package is available for $59, which includes a 3-course dinner, tax, gratuity and a ticket to the performance, at The Plaza Cafe in Southampton. A dinner and theater package will also be available on Thursday, January 26th at Little Red Restaurant in Southampton.
The Levitas Center at Southampton Cultural Center is located at 25 Pond Lane in Southampton. For more information, call 631-287-4377 or visit www.scc-arts.org.