Act II opened its new season with a bang, offering the audience Bruce Graham’s ACCORDING TO GOLDMAN.
Gavin Miller (Tony Braithwaite) was a successful screenwriter in his time. He pumped out some popular films and knows what sells in the business. He and his wife Melanie (Susan Riley Stevens) are getting older and move to a university town on the East Coast where he begins teaching screenwriting. A heavily sought-after professor, he begins his semester and encounters a nervous, awkward, religious studies major Jeremiah Collins (Luke Brahdt) who begs to enter his already overflowing classroom. Gavin quickly learns this boy is a burgeoning star and takes him under his wing. He coaches Jeremiah about writing a script that sells, the sacrifices that go into Hollywood life, and ultimately how to get ahead.
Life looks good for the Millers – Melanie is happy, making friends, inviting company, and is thinking of enrolling in classes for fun; Gavin is a sought-after professor with a beautiful, supportive wife, no debt, a gorgeous home, and a new, interesting student. But, just as in real life, nothing is at it seems on the surface. Prepare for a real jolt, as the background introduced in the first act culminates in act two.
There are so many components that make this play interesting. As Gavin is teaching his students about screenwriting, I felt I was learning about the thought-process of Graham as he wrote the very play we were watching but his twists are even more shocking because they are more realistic than most twists in any movie.
This type of show could only be handled by the right director (David Bradley) and real performers; they proved their talent scene after scene. The characters were so believable I felt ashamed to be watching them at such important life moments. The set, sound, and lighting supported the actors as they delivered the imagery and emotion that could only tell the story the right way and bring us into Gavin, Melanie, and Jeremiah’s world.
ACCORDING TO GOLDMAN is a great way to ring in the 2015-2016 season at Act II. [Act II Playhouse, 56 E Butler Ave, Ambler, PA] September 8–October 11; act2.org.