There are three ways to make it in Hollywood: tireless work, brilliant talent, or good luck. Or, failing those, you can kidnap an alcoholic screenwriter and keep him hostage in a dirty old trailer in the middle of nowhere as your mentor until you craft the perfect screenplay together. That's the chosen path in Ebbe Roe Smith's world-premiere play Day of the Docent at CoHo Productions, directed by Marcella Crowson.
Smith himself plays the kidnapped screenwriter Francis Overley, a man with a taste for Grey Goose who wrote one hit (also called Day of the Docent) and a bunch of movies that never got made. He has defected from Hollywood, a wreck of a man, unable to hack the scene any longer. On his way out of Dodge, he gets taken prisoner by adoring fan Mick (Casey McFeron), a crook who is ready to turn away from his life of crime to pursue his true passion: film. Not movies, film.
The three-person cast is rounded out by Mick's girlfriend Grace (Laura Faye Smith), a tough-shooting trailer-park princess with an impressive vocabulary. Together, they squeeze out every bit of comedy in this tribute to the evils and glory of the biz, the pleasure and pain of the work.
The play is supplemented by film shorts directed by Jim Seaton, which don't do much to advance the plot but do provide another level of comedy to the already hysterical play. For other film buffs in the audience, there are sneaky tributes to famous film techniques woven throughout the show, one of the best being a filmed fight scene between McFeron and Tough Guy (Ted deChatelet) where the heads snap just a second too late and the blood stains are clean by the next frame.
It is rare to see a writer perform their own work so well, and even rarer to see them do it in a Speedo while reclining in a kiddy pool smoking a joint. While the story isn't autobiographical per se (who knows where he gets his ideas, but we're pretty sure he never kidnapped his idol), Ebbe Roe Smith embellishes his own experience as a Hollywood screenwriter with brazen theatricality and keen wit.