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‘The Book Club Play’ at Horizon Theatre

2013 May 22

I’d like to be able say I loved seeing “The Book Club Play” at Horizon Theatre. But if I had a choice between seeing it and reading my current book, “Praying for Sheetrock” by Melissa Fay Greene, I’d much rather read.

The Washington Post called “The Book Club Play” author, Karen Zacarias, “one of Washington’s most successful and prolific playwrights.” An Atlanta native and winner of many playwriting awards, Zacarias is a playwright-in-residence at Arena Stage, and her plays have been produced around the country at top theaters, including La Jolla Playhouse, the Goodman Theatre and the Alliance Theatre, so what do I know?

Look, this is a cute play. And if that’s what you like, you’ll probably like this. It’s about a book club, and things go awry among the members and everything gets wrapped up real nice, like, real pretty and happy at the end. And there are some snappy lines in the play. People around me laughed at them. I laughed once too.

The cast is great. You couldn’t ask for better actors. The persnickety, fastidious Ana is played brilliantly by  Wendy Melkonian. Ana’s a big fake phony who wants everything to shine just right for the electronic digital camera, whose lens spans her living room where the club meets every two weeks.

Each meeting is filmed electronically by an acclaimed international filmmaker overseas who is creating a documentary about book clubs, so he sees the comedy of errors that occurs in Ana’s living room when Ana is away for moments. The six characters all have their own wacky hangups. Ana’s husband, Rob (Bryan Brendle) doesn’t like to read, and Will (John Benzinger) is hiding a secret that he should have shared long ago.

It’s a bunch of silly, hokey pokey farce. For me, that’s the problem. This play is missing the element of truth. I don’t believe the situations or the characters. The play doesn’t seem like a slice of life. It seems like a play on the stage. It doesn’t sweep me up and make me believe or make me feel. It’s missing heart, soul and grit.

Outstanding beautiful scenic design by Moriah Culey-Clay and Isabel Curley-Clay. Directed by Jeff Adler, “The Book Club Play” runs through June 23 at Horizon Theatre.

Cast: Maria Rodriguez-Sager, Danielle Deadwyler, Dan Triandiflou.


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