Saturday, November 26, 2016

ICEBERGS, A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE INDUSTRY COMEDY AT GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE

Nate Corddry, Lucas Near-Verbrugghe and Keith Powell
in "Icebergs" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photos by Jeff Lorsch.

Hollywood is a magical word in the world of show business. It conjures up feelings of glamour, celebrity, and money…tons of it. And of course, when money enters the picture (pun definitely intended), powerful men and women cannot be far behind; and the gold mine at the end of the rainbow is Television.

Ask any budding writer in Los Angeles what his or her choice of a dream job in the industry would be, and nine times out of ten, the savvy ones will say ‘show runner’. If you’re the show runner, you’re the creative executive writer and the producer with immense influence and power that controls the syndicated/re-run market where the really big money gathers in piles in every room in your home or bank. Yes, the stage is the touchstone of the performing arts, and movies once were kings of the box office, but the mother lode now is television and everyone wants a piece of the action.

“Icebergs” is a Geffen Playhouse world premiere production written by Alena Smith, herself a TV writer, and smartly directed by Geffen Artistic Director Randall Arney. The Geffen has been the venue of choice for many of Los Angeles’ emerging playwrights due to the proximity to Hollywood and a steady stream of available quality actors thanks to nearby TV and movie production companies. LA is an ‘industry town’ and many Geffen productions are sprinkled with familiar faces from TV, stage and movies.

Nate Corddry and Jennifer Mudge in "Icebergs"
“Icebergs”, in short, tells the story of a millennial married couple who both work in the industry. Calder is an up and coming movie writer/director nicely played by Nate Corddry, and Jennifer Mudge is Abigail, his beautiful but neurotic actor wife.

Abigail is an established leading lady who is beginning to be aware that her biological clock is ticking away and that she and Calder must make some life altering choices. A career or children? They have been trying to get pregnant but without luck. Besides, they reason, with all the talk these days about “climate change”, maybe kids should be not on their radar screens just now.

Keith Powell in "Icebergs"
Into this flux-filled weekend comes Calder’s old college roommate Reed (Keith Powell), a paleontologist and science professor who is attending a conference this weekend on the subject of - you guessed it - climate change.


Rebecca Henderson in "Icebergs"
In addition to Reed, Abigail’s unpredictable, wisecracking tarot card-reading friend Molly (hilariously played by Rebecca Henderson) unexpectedly drops in. Abigail and Calder’s agent Nicky, played by Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, is spot-on as a schmoozing Hollywood agent looking out for his clients.

Jennifer Mudge, Nate Corddry and
Lucas-Near Verbrugghe in "Icebergs"
In one scene, the issue of whether Abigail should be given the lead role in Calder’s screenplay, which has not yet been cast, comes up. Nicky diplomatically says he thinks the studio may not green light it with Abigail in the part. Calder loyally tells Nicky it’s his movie and either Abby plays the lead or it’s no deal. That scene becomes a bit of a stretch in order to believe that this type of dialogue rings true in an industry where hard-nose executives wear flak-jackets under their business suits for safety and eat noble and loyal writers for breakfast.

“Icebergs” is a light, nice, TV sitcom-like play with plenty of laughs. The actors are solid, in their verisimilitude performances, but it’s not like they’re splitting the atom or solving world hunger during this weekend in LA’s Silver Lake district setting. It’s just a-slice-of-life peek into the up and down machinations of the television/movie industry, along with the decision of whether two millennial Hollywood professionals should plan to have children or not.

Anthony T. Fanning’s functional set design gives the actors plenty of space to roam, and David Kay Mickelsen’s costumes have the proper Southern California industry look. Lighting designer Daniel Ionazzi, and composer and sound designer Richard Woodbury, complete the creative team led by director Arney. The play is performed without an intermission and runs approximately 95 minutes.

“Icebergs” performs at the Geffen Playhouse on the Gil Cates stage and runs through December 18, 2016.
                                         -- Jack Lyons