One Thirty Productions welcomes in summer with a spry production of Neil Simon’s I Ought To Be In Pictures, which explores the challenges of estrangement and reconnection in a strained father-daughter relationship. Who is the real adult here? Who’s bringing up whom? Find out at the Bath House Cultural Center .
This 1979 three-person comedy was Simon’s eighteenth play in a long string of winners. It premiered in LA at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles with Tony Curtis as Herb. After seventeen previews, the Broadway production, directed by Herbert Ross, opened on April 3, 1980 at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, where it ran for 324 performances. Ron Liebman portrayed Herb, Dinah Manoff was daughter Libby, and Joyce Van Patten was Herb’s girlfriend Steffy. Manoff’s performance won her the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play; she reprised her role in a 1982 film version that featured Walter Matthau as Herb.
In the One Thirty Productions’ version, directed by the nationally credentialed Larry Randolph, regional actor Michael Corolla employs his commanding confidence and well-articulated voice to create a clear picture of a neurotic screenwriter who abandoned his family sixteen years earlier to pursue an unfettered bachelor life in southern California. Things haven’t gone so well for commitment-phobic Herb with perpetual writer’s block, but he does maintain a lukewarm romantic attachment to pragmatic studio make-up artist Steffy, who keeps him somewhat anchored to the human race. Regional Rabin winner Mary-Margaret Pyeatt presents a very down-to-earth Steffy; she’s serene and kind-hearted, accepts Herb with all his infuriating inconsistencies. Pyeatt’s Steffy provides a soft, steady contrast to Herb’s moods and explosive nature.
When Herb’s almost-adult daughter Libby arrives, unannounced, wearing a hitch-hiker’s back pack along with a chip on her shoulder the size of a N. California redwood tree, Steffy steps back to watch the lost pieces of Herb’s life puzzle sort themselves out. Even though Pyeatt isn’t on stage as much as the other two actors, her presence is always felt. She conveys an easy air of self-reliance and acceptance of life’s twists and turns. You know she’s always in control, gently, even if she’s not in a scene.
As Libby, director Randolph cast One Thirty Productions newcomer Marilyn Setu. A multiple Column Award nominee, Ms. Setu’s voice and physical presence fit the needs of angry daughter Libby to a “T”. There is an anxious quality to her performance that makes her portrayal the least at ease in the play, but she has a keen sense of comic timing and responds well to the hard-edged rebuffs she receives from Corolla’s Herb. Corolla and Setu make a believable picture as father and daughter.
This isn’t a Harold Pinter drama—it’s a Simon comedy: everybody gets sorted out happily at the end. One Thirty Productions provides another sweet afternoon’s divertissement for its unique mid-day performance time theatre with I Ought To Be in Pictures. Show runs through June 6. All performances are at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $14.00 at the door and $12.00 with a reservation. Group rates are available for parties of five or more people. For additional information and reservations, please call 214-532-1709. or visit http://www.bathhousecultural.com