The Submission, presented by MCC Theatre at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, September 11, 2011
Writing a play is a daunting task. Getting a new play produced takes "daunting" to exponential levels.
(Jonathan Groff) has been writing for a couple of years, trying to get
established on the new play festival circuit. In a unexplained fit of
inspiration, he writes a fresh, powerful and highly provocative tale of a
young African-American trying to escape from the life his family has
led for generations. He shows it first to his best friend Trevor (Will
Rogers), an aspiring actor, who gives him the first inclination that
he's written something very special. Danny finally shows it to his
boyfriend Pete (Eddie Kaye-Thomas), who echoes the praise.
however, has already made submissions to several new play festivals and
has just been accepted by the renowned Humana Festival. All sounds
good, looks positive - except for one thing: Danny has submitted under a
name that suggests a woman of recent African-American extract. He
justifies the action on the rationale that no festival committee would
take him seriously as the author of such a play. With the pseudonym,
the subject matter doesn't conflict with its source, and it seems to
That is, until he realizes the playwright
is part of the staging process at Humana. He hires Emilie (Rutina
Welsey) an aspiring actress to play his playwright and channel
information to and from him as the production comes to life.
Jeff Talbot has taken this Cyrano concept and given it enough twist to
make it work. Along the way, he starts a really interesting dialogue on
the comparison of discrimination among two disparate groups, gays and
blacks. His characters of Danny and Emilie are better drawn than the
supporting roles of Pete and Trevor, and interestingly, none of them are
thoroughly likeable. Each presents a bristle or mean streak at one
point or another. He has a tendency to beat a dead horse, as Emilie and
Danny repeat the same argument at least three times. The first time is
riveting, the last - deafening.
Mr. Groff is effective
as the young man getting a little long in the tooth to be so callow.
His Danny rationalizes and justifies each miscalculation as immature
young adults do. Ms. Wesley matches him well as Emilie evolves from
playing the role of the playwright to developing a real affection and
feeling of ownership of Danny's script. Messrs. Rogers and Thomas
David Zinn's set functions well, serving
the multiple locations and is suitably complemented by David Weiner's
Director Walter Bobbie gets
caught up in the argument scenes where a bit of trimming would have
better served the play, but otherwise keeps things moving well.
The Submission runs through October 22.