Life is continuing to grow complicated for that British-emigre heroes at the middle of “All Save One particular, ” Greg Jones Ellis’s comedy-drama regarding Hollywood within 1950. Getting older protagonist Sims Glendenning, an author, knows their scripts are usually passe. Their actress spouse, Claire, has an matter, and his admin and erstwhile lover Tulsi feels ignored. As if that will weren’t sufficient to cope with, the particular young man that is Sims’s most recent protege has brought to wily like a canine. Listen! He is at this again!
The particular offstage howls are a pleasant kooky contact in this or else tidy repartee-packed play, producing its globe premiere within a Washington Phase Guild creation that smacks of artifice. “All Conserve One” variations on severe themes, which includes fear of ageing and the weeknesses of gay and lesbian people when confronted with 1950s homophobia. The play’s dialogue plus dramaturgy, nevertheless , are directly out of drawing-room comedy: Entertaining zingers are readily available, and there is an old-fashioned quality towards the carefully designed pattern associated with revelation, repercussion and pressure. The old style style is not intrinsically a poor thing, however it has the side-effect of underscoring the stagy acting within key functions in movie director Carl Randolph’s production, producing for a damp theatrical encounter.
WSG Creative Director Costs Largess becomes in a especially creaky functionality as Sims, a famous scribbler who may be in Hollywood to subscribe to a movie adaptation of his work. A sense to be out of step with contemporary culture prompts Sims to consider converting to Catholicism under the guidance of Father Theodor (an industrious Danny Beason), Tinseltown’s go-to consultant on everything Church of Rome. Meanwhile, Claire (a mannered Laura Giannarelli) grows close to producer John Grant (Lawrence Redmond, mostly unstrained), who is bracing for a summons from the House Un-American Activities Committee. All of these figures have plot-fueling secrets inside their pasts.
Probably the most enjoyable presence is the arch, exasperated Basil played by R. Scott Williams. Basil is not a rounded or objectively plausible personage, but Williams’s poise and confidence gives him life. Every one of the characters have a flair for knife-edged quips, but Basil is just a veritable font of them. Insinuating that Sims’s new religiosity relates to Father Theodor’s attractiveness, Basil remarks witheringly, “When you said a priest would be dropping by that will help you, I pictured Spencer Tracy. When Montgomery Clift turned up, I assumed the meetings might go a bit longer than expected. ” (Basil often flounces peevishly on / off the detail by detail beachside-mansion set, by scenic designers Carl Gudenius, Jingwei Dai and Kirk Kristlibas. )
As that quote suggests, “All Save One” brims with references to classic Hollywood, a trait that could endear it to nostalgic audiences, were this production less stilted. A good nod to the past has to convince in the here and now.
“All Save One” by Greg Jones Ellis. Directed by Carl Randolph; costumes, Reema Al-Bawardy; lighting, Marianne Meadows; sound, Frank DiSalvo Jr. Two hours and quarter-hour. Tickets: $25-60. Through Dec. 9 at the Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. stageguild. org or 240-582-0050.