The Play You Want Review – An Insider’s Look at Show Business

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The Road Theatre Company is back following two years of pandemic panic (and theater shutdown) for its thirtieth anniversary season. The return to live performances opens with the world premiere of THE PLAY YOU WANT. Penned by Bernardo Cubria, proud member of The Road Theatre Company’s Inaugural Under Construction Playwright’s Lab, the piece is an insider’s view of show business – direct, challenging, and perhaps just a bit cynical. With all the excitement which a play’s success brings, might there be a downside? Skillfully directed by Michael John Garces, THE PLAY YOU WANT explores all of the excitement and beauty – but also the dark side – of what it takes to bring a show to an eager audience.

Cast of THE PLAY YOU WANT – Photo by Elizabeth Kimball

Mexican playwright Bernardo (Peter Pasco) is sick and tired of the uphill grind to find backers for anything he’s written. In a fit of pique, he snidely pitches what he considers the epitome of trash called “Nar-Cocos,” a play about the adventures of drug dealers on Dia de los Muertos, which he wouldn’t be caught dead writing – and then the unthinkable happens. The idea catches fire and is picked up by Public Theatre. Now he’s forced to write something which he doesn’t believe in – actually an idea he hates – but he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. There’s a newborn at home; his wife is on his case; and most of his money sources have dried up. He soon realizes that this may be his only opportunity – and so he reluctantly acquiesces to his agent’s demands and begins to pen his worst piece ever. But everybody in town loves the play – and the wretched piece might even land him on Broadway – but only if he makes a few “minor” revisions. Just how far is he willing to compromise himself for success?

Natalie Llerena and Peter Pasco – Photo by Elizabeth Kimball

A dark comedy which explores the extent of the compromises we are willing to make, THE PLAY YOU WANT is a thought-provoking but also wildly funny journey about what it takes to succeed. Whether, in Cubria’s case, it might be those tiny changes suggested by producers Scott Rudin or Steven Spielberg – or, on the flip side, the loss of a budding career. But the play also confronts the powers-that-be in Broadway and Hollywood, asking how much, in Shakespearean terms, that chunk of flesh must weigh. Funny but also poignant, THE PLAY YOU WANT has some uproarious moments – especially for those deeply involved in theater and films. It is an entertaining and perhaps eye-opening romp into the back alleys of show business.

Cast of THE PLAY YOU WANT – Photo by Elizabeth Kimball

THE PLAY YOU WANT runs through April 3, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays (theater black on 3/25, 3/25, and 3/27/22). Performances continue in repertory beginning on April 7 at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, at 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Sundays through April 24, 2022. The Road Theatre is located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $39 (students and seniors $15; Sundays Pay-What-You-Can). For information and reservations, call 818-761-8838 or go online.


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