As Bees In Honey Drown 

Theater Review

Triangle Productions through Sept 29

This is a play about the biz, as many plays are, and is loaded with enough betrayals, seductions, and soap-operatic twists to earn its Jackie Collins-like title. And like every Collins' novel, it's not going to stick in your mind and bother you when you try to sleep at night--but damn, is it entertaining while it lasts.

In fact, lasting in the entertainment field is one of the main themes in this story about a hot, young, gay writer who finds himself idle in the wake of a first semi-successful novel. A self-described "slow writer," Evan Wyler (the very handsome Spencer Conway) seems to be getting more attention from the literary community for his shirtless bookjacket photo than for his words. One woman in particular who notices is Alexa Vera de Vera, an east coast glamour queen whose occupation is intentionally never made clear. Suffice it to say, she is the essence of New York-biz power and beauty, the uber vixen who haunts many a cheap romance, and as played by radio talk show host-turned-actress, Daria O'Neill, is also hilarious (not to mention hot as HELL). She throws cash at Wyler like it's going out of style, and demands that he write a screenplay based on the story of her life. Wyler, being the naive little sell-out that he is, accepts.

I'm too hard on Wyler, though--I think everyone who sees O'Neill's performance will want to accept her offer. She's such a riveting combination of sultry, smart, and funny, that she's nearly impossible to resist, even when we find out later that she preys on people like Wyler. She sucks upstarters in, pays for things with cash, then manipulates them into paying for BIG things with credit in the name of "research." By the time we find that out, though, we don't care what kind of psycho Vera de Vera is, as long as she gets more stage time. A later scene, in which we see flashbacks of how she went from nice lady to cunning manipulator, only adds to the complexity of O'Neill's performance, and makes us like her character more.

She's so captivating, she even makes the very gay Wyler lust after her like a bitch in heat, an aspect of the play which is actually its most underdeveloped. A gay man compromising his entire state of being to diddle a chick in the name of love seems like an issue to me, but Douglas Carter Beane's script tosses it off like wilted lettuce. Later on, Wyler goes right back to being gay again, no questions asked. That's only one weak link in a chain of strong ones, though. O'Neill's performance overshadows pretty much everything, but there is also fine acting turned out by Scott Weimer and CW Jensen, who fill in the gaps with a variety of different and vivid characters, when Vera de Vera is gone there are subplots with Wyler trying to take his revenge on Vera de Vera after realizing he's been scammed, and a romantic entanglement between him and an old friend of hers who he seeks to learn more about her. But both take second stage (yes, I know I'm sounding like a broken record here, but see the damn play and you'll understand why) to O'Neill's spell of wonder.

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