Submitted by C. Randall McCloskey
nytheatre.com review by Brad Lee Thomason
August 14, 2011
I’ve been around a lot of actors in my life, and I have discovered that there is very little they enjoy more than talking about themselves, their “craft,” and show business itself. It would stand to reason then, that if a bunch of talented theatre people got together to create a show that bitingly lampoons the whole industry it would probably come across as uproarious as the Quorum Theatre’s FringeNYC presentation of Submitted by C. Randall McCloskey.
We begin with a waitress-actress (wow, what a rare breed those are) named Penny, who is more interested in filling her acting resume with lies than in serving her increasingly exasperated restaurant patrons. After a chance meeting with Brian, with whom she did a showcase some time ago, she eventually joins Brian’s agency, run by a man named C. Randall McCloskey. McCloskey has a knack for finding his clients (there are only three before Penny is “signed”) good auditions and is highly respected by a creepy amoral casting director. The problem is, McCloskey doesn’t exist; the agency is actually being run by Brian out of his apartment, and the clients all seem to lack the slightly important element known as talent. All of them are being typecast; Penny has done a string of shows playing characters who are severely mentally handicapped; the titles of these plays are hilarious as well as the flashback portrayals of their scenes, by the way. My favorite had to be "Autistic Differences." Then we have Trev, a sassy gay who keeps getting cast as, you guessed it; sassy gays. Finally there’s Tiki, who says she was named after the torch and continually gets cast as dead hookers.
The cast is a lot of fun and they seem like they are truly enjoying their work. Brian O’Halloran plays an effective straight man to the outrageous characters around him, including the unapologetically headstrong Penny played by Carol Todd; his landlord Mr. Kluntz, who speaks only in Tourette-like monosyllabic grunts; and Bernice, an over-the top transvestite who works in a nightclub with Trev specializing in transvestite karaoke. Both of these characters are played by Steven Mark Friedman who at first is difficult to identify in his transvestite attire, but is priceless in both roles. In fact the entire cast with the exception of Todd and O'Halloran play a multitude of roles and they all do it skillfully; from Andy Phelan as a frustrated diner and a (what else?) flamboyantly sassy gay to Rebecca Harris Flynn as a mobster-like female tranny and a ditzy blond actress to Bob Senkewicz as an unscrupulous casting director and an enraged restaurant chef.
Interestingly enough, as funny as the actual show is, some of the most entertaining moments of the production are the set changes. The actors move the set around while doing stylized interpretative dance to mostly original music; and all of the songs are hysterical. With track titles like “When She Held My Nuts in her Hand,” “Malibu Johnston: Waste Management,” and my personal favorite “Baby, You Got a Gimp in Yo’ Draw’rs,” the set changes are some of the most original and hilarious I have seen in live theatre, and even the stagehand gets in on the shenanigans. Credit for this goes to sound designer Matthew Campbell and director Paul Whelihan, and of course a big mention must be made of Ian August’s clever and riotous script. Overall, Submitted by C. Randall McCloskey is a fun romp that I believe will make both actors and non-actors laugh throughout.