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Schooled by Lisa Lewis at the Fringe

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photo 4-Schooled-Lilli Stein & Quentin Mare. Photographer Andrea Reese-p

The New York International Fringe Festival offers a terrific opportunity to catch writers in their breakout plays. Even writers who have already had successes get a great chance to showcase new ideas. Schooled by Lisa Lewis, who has spent lots of time in the film world, really works because it offers the sticky truth about show biz… people will do anything to catch their dream. Even not sleep with somebody.

As an ahem, aging, screenwriter and professor, Quentin Mare’s Andrew starts off his class by telling his hungry cine- sharks that they will never be satisfied… the first ten minutes of success are the best and after that, it’s like catching up with yourself to stay on top. He is cynical despite the fact that he’s got a pretty good writing career, a young vital family and tenure. But his heavy drinking belies his satisfaction; when Claire (Lillie Stein) offers to drink with him in exchange for writing tips, they’ve both stepped into the place where the light doesn’t shine. Meanwhile, Jake, (Stephen Friedrich), Claire’s privileged genius boyfriend wants to move in together but still tries to sidestep her for the prestigious film grant offered by the school.

Lots of the dialogue is witty and on the mark. Lisa is smart. The characters are smart. They’re writers after all and they wear glasses. I did find some of Claire’s back- sob- story a bit tedious and questioned if Andrew really could confuse cocktail servers with purveyors of sex …he wasn’t that old? It might have been more riveting if the scripts they each were working on were mirrored more in their behavior. I liked it that he urged her to shorten her script’s endless narration; sort of wish Lisa had gotten them past their bantering wordplay into something deeper…earlier.

Three quarters through the play I realized why I was getting annoyed. Claire’s pretense at innocence slash nobility grated on me. At first I defended her and it as self-protection but then recalled my own dalliance with a mentor. The difference was in I fell in in love with mine  . Of course, I too wanted male approval but as a dyed -in-the-wool romantic, I never even thought of using him for my career. Times have changed and women realize that they have to push for their own breaks in film, even if it ain’t pretty.

The final redemption scene might have worked just as well if their lives hadn’t tied up quite so neatly. Still, it’s a play about movie making and with movies … between the focus groups, Tent Pole Films and twenty-somethings running Hollywood, a relative happy, hopeful ending makes sense.

Well-acted by all and neatly directed by James Kautz.

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Written by nancykoan

August 25, 2015 at 4:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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