LiveWire Chicago Theatre at Side Project. By Joshua Aaron Weinstein. Dir. Weinstein. With Deborah Proud, Christopher Dennis, Glenn Proud, Erin Barlow.
There’s plenty to admire about writer-director Weinstein’s short head trip—even though, in the end, the exercise proves more interesting than engrossing. As you enter, two onstage writers scribble frantically while classical music booms overhead and faint whispers of public radio echo from stage left. For a play about plagiarism, the chaotic preface is fitting: When writing, thoughts of inspiration and derivation invariably slam into each other.
Ian (Dennis) is a down-and-out writer who’s been shopping screenplays to his lover, Cherry (Barlow), a producer type who seems to be a Hollywood insider. Trouble is, as she puts it, all his efforts are shit. He gets his hands on a new screenplay by his college sweetheart, Gina (Deborah Proud), and passes it off as his own. By all accounts, the script is a masterpiece, and Ian is caught in the tricky situation of writing a follow-up—and dodging threats from Gina’s husband, Joe (Glenn Proud, who gives the steadiest performance as a caring but irascible mechanic).
On paper, this sounds a lot like Woody Allen territory, as do Weinstein’s insights: Those who can’t do teach; Hollywood culture is the root of all evil; art is often just imitation, etc. The real joy here, however, is watching the time-shifting “life imitates” script unfold; the more characters peep in on other people’s lives, the more they act like they’re in Gina’s screenplay. —Tim Lowery