Anton in Show Business
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Gene Abravaya

Anton in Show Business, now playing at Spreckels Performing Arts Center in beautiful Rohnert Park, is a comic look at theatre today in America. Written by Jane Martin, this play makes fun of everything including every member of the audience so come prepared to laugh at yourself as well as the characters in the comedy.

The play does bring up many reasons why theatre in America is walking on a razor’s edge. In fact, one could say that working in American theatre is a little like a hemophiliac working in a razor factory. You never know when you will be cut, and it could be a matter of life or death. Some topics raised are how often one actor has to play several roles just to reduce costs, how easy it is to have funding pulled out from under you like a silk rug on a waxed floor, how many actors are forced to work for free and the limited variety of audiences that usually go to the theatre. All these points are made with a comic flare by the high-energy all-female cast, and, the night I attended, the audience kept laughing even when the characters made fun of them.

My only criticism is that the playwright wasn’t always sure when she wanted a scene to be funny or when she really wanted to make a serious statement. Since most of the characters she created are comic stereotypes, when they tried speaking more seriously, it was like bad television – like a TV sitcom character that resolves a problem in a half hour that in reality would take a lifetime.

But the key question is whether this play is good entertainment and the answer is yes. One of the things I really liked about this production is how it is constantly engaging the audience by commenting on it and by having characters in the audience interrupt the play with comments and questions. I especially liked the cowboy, played by Joan Mankin who walks in through an exit door as though he had rode his horse here from a Sonoma County ranch and had it tied up to the door handle. His comments about why he should really give a damn about theatre had a down home feel that resonated in the audience’s laughter.

The final scene was also very touching and added a little depth to the comedy. The only way to improve this drama is if the actors hung around with the audience after every performance. Perhaps they could even walk out to the parking lot with them.

For tickets or more information about this Pacific Alliance Stage Company production directed by Hector Correa, call (707) 588-3400.

Current / Touring / Archives / Links / Film / Video / Links / Home