Reviewed by Cindy PierreOh yeah. Look at those bedroom eyes and relaxed posture. Aside from getting nooky and looking cool, you want to know what else is on his mind, right? According to actor and writer Ian McWethy, not a whole lot. Actors are F*@#ing Stupid takes us through the fictitious casting process for Varsity Blues, the 1999 football movie starring James Van Der Beek. And although you may chuckle as it takes you down memory lane, you won't get any knee-slapping humor from this comedy. And furthermore, don't expect the humor you do get to be smart; it's juvenile even though it makes an attempt to be dark.
Maniacal film producer Bill Lawrence (Tom Escovar), devoid of morals and tact, is anxious to get the commercial, pocket-fattening actors he needs to star in his latest movie. Except he's got one problem: a writer who's a stickler for the integrity of the film. Doug (Josh LaCasse) insists on sitting in on the casting process, and having his pick of at least one of the leads. The Assistant (Carrie McCrossen) endures Lawrence's sexist names (Boobsy and Chesticles are memorable) for her and harsh treatment just to get the chance to work with Doug because she believes in him. In return, Doug keeps giving her chances because he believes in her ass-ets as well.
Waiting to audition are Steve (Roger Lirtsman), a normal guy who is more than meets the eye, Jennifer (Heidi Niedermeyer), a flexible dancer with a flair for drama, Amy (Susan Maris), an ambitious young lady who'll do anything to get the part, and Johnny (Wil Petre), a potty-mouthed bonehead who coasts by on his good looks. Everything that you'd expect from actors interacting with each other at a casting call is there: jealousy, deceit, flamboyance, pretention, and fake sincerity. But despite all these ingredients that usually make theater juicy, the show suffers from being over the top in several ways.
First, there's the crass dialogue from both Johnny and Bill Lawrence that would make Andrew Dice Clay's ears burn. As Johnny, the cussing and sexually charged language may be handled marginally better by Petre because of his cavalier attitude, but even Petre can't justify it. Second, as Bill Lawrence (a character who lacks sleep), Escovar is so loud and obnoxious in his delivery that you'll wish he could go to sleep. Immediately. Only Niedermeyer successfully balances her extreme behavior with more recognizably human traits as Jennifer. Maris and Lirtsman (characters Steve and Amy) turn in more subdued performances and provide a nice alternate view to the ins and out of acting.Actors are F*@#ing Stupid uses songs like I Don't Want to Wait by Paula Cole and Ruff Ryders Anthem by DMX to revive the '90s; although the trip back in time is nice, the medley of songs speak to different audiences. (Paula Cole fits in; DMX doesn't.) And like the score, the show will appeal to some, but alienate others. Since McWethy is an actor, I expected more insight and a few surprises about the process. There were none. If he's going to poke fun at his own job and peers, he should be better and smarter at it. The show has a funny, satirical premise, but the script is missing the boat. Director Michael Kimmel succeeds in making the script come alive, but the production needs to be turned down, not amplified. In more ways than one, this show proves that sometimes a lot less is more.
......................................................................Through March 15th. Tickets $18-20. By Phone:212-352-3101, 866-811-4111(toll free)
The Wild Project195 East 3rd Street
New York, NY 10009