Saturday, November 19, 2011

POW! (Play Of The Week)

by Christopher Shinn

After seeing Picked at the Vineyard Theatre this spring, I was immediately drawn to Shinn’s plays. The festering underbelly in his work is quite engaging, and the actor is forced to acknowledge the haunting subtext. The task is fun, and Shinn allows for complicated, indecisive, twisted characters.

In Four, which was originally produced by the Royal Court Theatre in London and later in New York City by the Worth Street Theater Company, four characters come together under similar, but two different circumstances. One of which is between a sixteen-year-old boy and a closeted, married black man whom he met on the internet. The other is the man’s sixteen-year-old daughter and a twenty-year old drug dealer. The scene work is quite interesting and the power play between charters is lustful and complicated. The two situations are foils for one another, and Shinn keeps us engaged by switching back and forth between each rendez vous.

There are good monologues and scenes for teenage actors. However, I recommend they be in their twenties or extremely mature since the subject matter is quite jarring. The piece is perfect for colleges or audiences open to a profound, heartbreaking exploration of sexuality, secrets, trust, and what happens when obligation is lifted.

When people place themselves in such impersonal situations, we often see them unfolding and exposing themselves in ways otherwise hidden by a socially acceptable guise. We see a “festering underbelly” bubbling to the surface out of sheer ambiguity.


Review by Shawn Verrier

Monday, November 07, 2011

Thurs, Nov 10 @ 6pm: Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara: WHERE'S THE WATCH? By "Uncle Leo" Len Lesser at The Drama Book Shop

Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara (and possibly Ben Stiller) celebrate the publication of Where's the Watch?! And Other Tales — a memoir from Seinfeld's Uncle Leo… Len Lesser.

Len Lesser passed away unexpectedly this February before the release of his memoir. Join the Stiller's for an evening talking theater, Hollywood and humor all wrapped up with their fond memories of Len Lesser, a lovable man whose life was a whole lot more than Seinfeld's Uncle Leo.

"Lesser's book is a theater buff's thriller. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. And you'll recognize all the suspects."--Jerry Stiller

"Len was an educated, articulate, hip, thoughtful contemporary man. Uncle Leo was a bit, a put on. It was so brilliant,it is unfathomable that it was a performance.--Jason Alexander

"I loved Len. We had fun every day we got to work together."--Jerry Seinfeld


You are about to meet the actor Len Lesser. An ordinary man with an extraordinary career. One of the longest in Hollywood.

A quintessential ladies man, Len was a WWII veteran, who held a degree in economics. He was intelligent, driven, and handsome. He could have done anything with his life. But he chose to act. That decision would land him jobs as a factory worker and a dishwasher. He would struggle throughout his life while still sharing the screen with Hollywood legends.

Before his breakout role as Uncle Leo on Seinfeld at age sixty-eight, Len was known for his work in films such as Kelly's Heroes, Birdman of Alcatraz, How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Papillon, The Outlaw Josie Wales and TV shows like That Girl, The Monkees, and Get Smart.

Told in his own distinctive voice, Where's the Watch will introduce you to a different side of Seinfeld's Uncle leo. It is a poignant, inspiring romp through Hollywood…and life itself.

You will never see Uncle Leo the same way again.

Where's the Watch?! and Other Tales: A Memoir from Seinfeld's Uncle Leo
by Len Lesser and Tama Ryder with a foreword by Ed Asner
Staff Picks Press, November 2011
Paper: $17.50

Len Lesser was an award-winning actor and a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His career spanned more than six decades during which time he appeared in hundreds of critically acclaimed stage performances, films, and television shows, most notably on Seinfeld. He worked with Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, Mel Brooks, and Frank Sinatra, among others. He resided in Los Angeles, where he and Ed Asner liked to stir up trouble with the ladies.

Tama Ryder is a Harvard-educated writer who grew up without a television. She wrote and produced an award-winning documentary about the Fresh Air Fund program and most recently worked for Senator Bob Kerrey. She tried to stay clear of the Sunset Strip when she knew Len and Ed were on the prowl. You can read more about her at