I Ought to be In Pictures
By Roz Friedman
The present production of "I Ought to be in Pictures" at the Ivoryton Playhouse is so beguiling its run should be extended. Unfortunately, this Neil Simon comedy plays only through May 11, so try and get there this week.
Neil Simon's style may be out of fashion right now, but this play, written in 1979 and produced on Broadway in 1980, is fresh and current; dealing with issues of divorce and desertion, it is both touching and very funny. Its construction is brilliantly built on a series of scenes that flow perfectly for two hours with one intermission.
The premise is seemingly simple. 19 year old Libby, portrayed so well by Siobhan Fitzgerald, arrives on her father's doorstep in West Hollywood, CA without warning. (Lee Grant's daughter, Dinah Manoff, won a Tony for the role.) She's hitchhiked from Brooklyn, and although she has had no experience, she wants to be a movie actress. She thinks her father, a writer, should introduce her to the right people. They haven't seen each other since he walked out on her, her mother and her brother, Robbie, 16 years ago. Her dad, “shlubby Herb,” an effective Mike Boland, has had some success, but is experiencing writer's block. He also has commitment problems; he's dating Steffy, a makeup person, played by the lovely Jeannie Rapp. She'd like to make their relationship more permanent, but so far he only sees and sleeps with her once a week. Boland, by the way, looks a lot like Neil Simon.
Libby, full of anger toward Herb, and missing him in her life, talks to her grandmother for advice, even though she has been dead for six years; Herb has no idea how to be a father, and is outraged to find out his son has been renamed from Carl to Robbie. He was named Carl for the baseball player, Carl Hubbell. He is also shocked to discover Robbie is not an athlete; he is a pianist.
The two, father and daughter, find common ground and love with the help of Steffy, who is the moderator and voice of reason here. As they grow closer together, they touch our hearts and bring real tears to the proceedings. Director R. Bruce Connelly does a good job, and Bill Stark's set design, which incorporates an eat-in kitchen, living room, office and alcove, works well. My only objection is the overly long time spent between the scenes. (Costumes: Kari Crowther; Lighting: Marcus Abbott).
Remember, I Ought to Be in Pictures plays through May 11 at the Ivoryton Playhouse.
This review originally aired on WMNR 88.1FM FINE ARTS PUBLIC RADIO