Leonard, Larry Phillips, Peter Buck Dettman, Ryan Dusek
by Eugene Paul
Dowd, yes, THE famous Stephen Dowd, has just finished hanging his famous #28
shirt, expensively framed, on the wall of the shitty little apartment he is
sharing with his two brothers, Paul the Grouch and Kevin the idiot. After all,
he owns the place. , he can do what he wants. Sure, the big house is gone and
so are his wife and kids. And so is his career, after the injury to his
shoulder but something will turn up, he’s famous, maybe this reality show some
TV dame is pitching him. The divorce is killing him, he’s broke, blah, blah,
blah. Maybe he should be more like his freak show kid brother, not a worry in
the world, no job, no talent, positive he’s going to get on TV, those “you got
talent” shows and be famous, like him. Cripes. And Paul, sour, bitching all the
time. So Paul’s paying the bills, so what? Who paid all the bills in Stephen’s
flush times? Stephen. Yes, that’s Stephen, not Steve, dammit, Stephen. Time
for another beer.
we’re in Larry Phillips’ play, just like that with the Dowd brothers awaiting
the arrival of Meredith, to pitch the Dowd family reality show at them.
There’s only one problem: Stephen will doubtless do the show and Kevin can’t
wait to get on the show, but Paul – Paul is not playing ball, you might say. He
won’t have anything to do with anything to do with Stephen or baseball. He
won’t even be there to hear how much money they can make. He is not interested
in money he is not interested in reality TV he is jut not interested in any of
it and that’s that.
of Randomly Specific Theater.
in a way, is the problem. Larry Phillips, the playwright, who is also playing
Paul the non participant, has set up a situation describing it in terms which
resonate all too tellingly with a good many people who go to the theater and do
not even consider watching “reality’ TV. True, there are millions of others
who do follow the genre, but they’re home watching. They are not here. So that
when Meredith shows up, all svelte, sweetness and light and makes her pitch, it
has all the charismatic effect of a punctured balloon. There’s no there
there. Until she insists that Paul must also sign and be part of the show or
there’s no show.
What? What’s going on here? Our TV show about a TV show has just hit a spark of
interest. We’’ve got some theatrical conflict? How is this going to play out?
There’s Paul, bright, smiling, relaxed, coaching a little league game, and
there’s this cute babe just happened by to watch the kids because they’re so
cute. And who is this pleasant, knowledgeable about baseball girl? Why, it’s
Meredith, meeting cute with nice guy Paul. And we’re back to TV. Yes, but –
what’s going to happen? When Paul finds out? He can’t possibly be persuaded
after he finds out about Meredith. Can he?
playwright Phillips may not have a play here he has chosen to tell a cinematic
story told cinematically, and since television feeds on itself these days, why
not this show? Might he have focused more on Meredith and developed a
compelling character study of the stresses and directions of an ambitious,
smart, attractive woman and her life and career choices? Could he have
developed a complete portrait of a natural athlete and what fame does to him?
Might he have found the darker story of a gifted athlete who just couldn’t bring
himself to find the ego in himself to compete? Or is there a story in a happy-go-lucky
doofus believing in the power of magical thinking and having it come true? And
what if you have all these stories and try to combine them in one piece, what
do you have?
have more than director Matthew J. Nichols attempts to handle. He has not
chosen a direction for the playwright’s potential, he has simply staged a
budding work in less than optimum circumstances. But he’s made one interesting
casting choice, casting Dusek as Stephen for his softness. However, if Ryan
Dusek were to play Paul, and if Larry Phillips, who plays Paul were to play
Stephen, would the play come closer to the author’s intention? Phoebe Leonard
is just fine as Meredith and Peter Buck Dettman is having a wonderful time
being Kevin, right down to the beads in his beard. We may see Secondary
Pitch come at bat again.
the Bridge Theater, 244 West 54th Street, 12th floor.
Tickets: $20 at box office or secondarypitch.bpt.me. 90 min. Thru Oct 25.