An actor’s life

Act Naturally

Written by Scott Katzman
Directed by Christopher Maring
WorkShop Theater Company
312 W. 36th St., 4th Floor
Equity showcase (closes February 24th)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh


Act Naturally is a funny, if self-indulgent and esoteric, almost-one-man-show. With an endearing, energetic ensemble, Act Naturally entertains even if the material would have been served better with a little more structure and a little less length.


The plot of Act Naturally follows the stream of consciousness ramblings of its star, Arthur (Scott Katzman, who also wrote the piece). The premise is that Arthur will receive his Equity card if he manages to stay on stage for ninety minutes, covering a one man show. Unfortunately, he was offered the job as understudy that day, and doesn’t know the show at all. Instead, the stage manager encourages him to just talk. What follows is basically a therapy session in which Arthur vents about most of the realities one encounters in the business. He delves into his frustrations with acting lessons, agents, day jobs, and even relationships.


Basically, there are some really funny situations and moments in the show, but unfortunately, most of these situations will only resonate with people in the business. Additionally, there is very little that is unique about the frustrations and themes of the show. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is a limitation. Further, the show is too long for what it is and meanders in a few places. What ends up being the more important strands of plot should be set up better from the beginning. With some fine-tuning and excising the superfluities, the show would feasibly work much better.


That’s not to say there weren’t many good things in the show. The strongest asset the production has is its cast. Katzman is quite likeable as the struggling actor in desperate desire of his Equity card. The other six actors in the ensemble got to showcase themselves in a myriad of roles. All six were versatile and vivacious, and also hilarious at times. The standout performer was Tracee Chimo. Every single role she played had a distinct, quirky personality. She made roles that could’ve been cliché, uniquely comical.


Director Christopher Maring used the intimate stage well; it never felt cramped. The pacing could have been picked up a bit, but the real solution would be, as mentioned above, to cut out twenty minutes. David Behringer’s set was minimal but functional (just two chairs). Paulette Keck’s practical costumes were mostly black with some modifications for various eccentric characters. Melanie Smock’s lighting design allowed the show to be seen without problem. Nick Viselli’s sound design was clear and punctual.


Thus, Act Naturally is an amusing, if a little self-pitying, play. Arthur sorts through his baggage and is able to reaffirm his dream to be an actor, with an Equity card as his prize. Sadly, though, those in the business know that even with an Equity card, it is still like swimming upstream naked and without a paddle. But all those new woes will be fodder for the sequel.


Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

Copyright 2007 Seth Bisen-Hersh

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