Susan Gets Some Play
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
August 18, 2007
Susan Louise O'Connor, the heroine of Adam Szymkowicz's delightfully screwball Susan Gets Some Play, is very clear about her intentions: she wants a boyfriend and she wants to get laid. Fair enough. Szymkowicz gives Susan a shot at both in this daffy meta-play as she and her best friend hatch a ridiculous scheme to get her some action.
The plan, cooked up by her friend Jay, is to hold fake auditions for a non-existent play so Susan can try out some actors in the hopes of finding someone nice, cute, and artsy. The auditions garner an odd assortment of prospects—including a platonic actor buddy of Susan's, two guys from the audience, and a well-known movie star—and before long Susan has her hands full. Will she go with the movie star or the guy upstairs who can't sleep because the auditions are too noisy? Maybe she'll pick one of the guys from the audience. Susan Gets Some Play whips up some goofball trouble for its protagonist while poking gentle fun at her singlehood, her devotion to the theatre, and everything in-between.
There's a lot of rib-tickling silliness here, like the running gag of Jay dropping his pencil so all the guys have to bend over to pick it up (he wants to make sure Susan can sample the wares). Or Susan taking full advantage of a free dinner by stuffing rolls into her purse. Then there are the two guys from the audience: one of them is a plant (he's actually a cast member); the other one is actually a guy from the audience (I should know: at the performance I attended that lucky guy was me). Both men get to do some fun, loopy stuff at their respective auditions.
As a vehicle for its star (who happens to have the exact same name as the character she plays), Susan Gets Some Play showcases O'Connor's charm, sweetness, and sass at their finest. She is funny, phenomenally talented, and easy on the eyes to boot, so at first it may seem like a stretch believing that she can't get a date. But the audience soon gets a taste of what holds Susan back: herself. Every time a nice man comes on to her, she fearfully bails. Later on we see the effect years of romantic disappointment has had on her when she flat out admits, "I'm just not lucky. I'm not good enough." Underneath the play's jokey exterior is a kind, but damaged, heart.
Szymkowicz and director Moritz von Steulpnagel do terrific work here, making it seem like the play just happens by itself (which I totally mean as a compliment). Kevin R. Free is the perfect comedic foil as Jay, and Jorge Cordova is a suitably stuffed shirt as the upstairs neighbor. The rest of the cast—Matthew DeCapua, Danny Deferrari, Scott Ebersold, and Travis York—all get their turn in the comic spotlight as well.
Go help a girl out and see this play. Between the excellent performances, the onslaught of one-liners, and the raffle (oh yeah—they raffle off a date with Susan, sort of) you may get lucky yourself.