When you hear that Little Artistic Value is presenting My Ass, you might respond, "I beg your pardon?" But rest assured, the title is a pun on words rather than a reference to the rear region of the body. Indeed, My Ass turns out to be the story of a casting director teaching a class in auditioning to a group of aspiring actors in an acting school. This isn't interactive Weist-Barron, however, for these participants are misfits and psychotics.
John (Lee Blair) is an important casting director with a group of pupils from all walks of life: Gail (Ashley Trimble) is the most experienced actor of the lot, followed by Tim (Larry Giantonio) and Kelly (Tiffany D. Jones). Also in the class are Rich (Joshua Koehn), a man with a stutter; a very bizarre actress named Noel (Paula Ehrenberg); a psychotic thief named George (Shon Little); Angel (Lindel Sandlin), a porno actress who had reconstructive surgery after suffering amnesia in a car accident; a strange performance artist in Heidi clothing named Sandy (Jodi Shilling); Clark (Thomas F. Walsh), a Wall Street businessman with no acting experience; Lucy (Vickie Schmitt), an escaped mental patient who is mistaken for the substitute teacher; and Brenda (Sarah Jane Wytko), a very bitchy aide who is secretly in love with the teacher.
Shon Little's play has some big laughs, but overall it lacks structure and dramaturgy. Even in a comedy credibility is crucial. In My Ass, however, it was never clear who was the main character or what were the dramatic events. Is the play about exposing corruption in the acting world or about the students' victories? There were too many coincidences (such as the two actors who once had a drunken fling then end up in the same class), too many tidy endings (such as the family reunion that closes the show) and not enough action.
In their artistic statement Little Artistic Value state that their "primary purpose is to make you laugh." They succeeded most of the time. The monologue by Little was played to perfection, while Shilling's audition piece was laugh-out-loud funny. Sandlin's "head shot" was amusing, as was Ehrenberg's riff on words that start with CL, while Schmitt's confusion as the substitute teacher stole the show. If Little had had a stronger dramatic engine (he surely had enough talent available), My Ass could have been focused as well as funny.
The cast was solid, although most of the acting felt as if it were pulled out of a sitcom. Little's direction was very strong when it came to the audition pieces but allowed the focus to meander during other scenes; he could have reigned all the actors in a bit, giving the whole production more clarity of intention.
The set design (uncredited), which consisted only of chairs, did
its job, while the costumes by Melanie Wehrmacher were
splendid and Cindy Shumsey's lighting was adequate.
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