Pub date February 27, 2008
SectionArts & CultureSectionStage

New York playwright Theresa Rebeck has made a name for herself railing against the shallow, self-absorbed depravity of people. In her savagely written The Scene, four Manhattanites working in television (like Rebeck, who has written for Law and Order) demonstrate just how low they’ll stoop as they try to choose the lesser of evils.

Instead of sucking up to a cheesy TV producer, Charlie (Aaron Davidman), a long-out-of-work actor, sponges off his wife, Stella (played by Daphne Zuniga from Melrose Place), who makes a decent living booking guests on a vapid talk show that cons its audience into believing their salvation can be found in low-carb pasta.

The show opens with Charlie and his best friend, Lewis (Howard Swain), shmoozing at a party. Along comes Clea (Heather Gordon, in real life Miss Marin) — young, new to town, and the living embodiment of all that Charlie detests. She buzzes on incoherently about how New York City is so, like, surreal and is instantly drawn to Charlie as he flies into one of many eloquent tirades on banality. It’s their ill-conceived match that becomes the center of the play, which director Amy Glazer orchestrates with just the right flow. Meanwhile affable Lewis and virtuous Stella get caught in the scrimmage. All four deliver pitch-perfect performances. But guess which one steals the whole Scene?


Through March 8

Wed–Sat, 8 p.m. (also Sat, 3 p.m.), $20–$65

San Francisco Playhouse

533 Sutter, SF

(415) 677-9596