CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE is a fast-paced, often hilarious and oh so dark but razor sharp satire about Hollywood by Michael McKeever. Thanks to his skillful handling of the outrageous premise and characters, the play which is only a couple of years old, will certainly be around for a long time to come.
The plot, or what I can describe of it without spoiler alerts, is full of twists and turns, but I’ll give it a shot. So, here goes…..
Hollywood leading man and action hero Patrick Zane (frequently talked about but never seen) is at the Golden Globes with his wife where he is expected to win Best Actor in a drama.
As the play begins, Gage Holland, the currently very anxious manager of the Chateau Marmont and Estella, a nearly hysterical maid, are in the luxurious suite (beautifully designed by the play’s director Jim Strait) rented by Mr. Zane. We immediately see the cause of their current state of agitation. In the center of the room lies a dead naked man who Gage recognizes as a prostitute whom he has seen many times before in the hotel.
Into this chaos comes ‘Hilly’ Hilliard, a manipulator of facts and Mr. Zane’s long time manager. Gage wants to call the police, Estella wants to hurry off to church and Hilly simply wants to have the problem ‘disappear.’ To this end, he calls in a favor owed to him by Morgan Wright who is considered to be the best ‘fixer’ in Hollywood.
And that’s about all I can say without giving away any of the surprises which are craftily revealed during the rest of the play.
But what I can say is that, among other things, the play deals with reality or at least what is perceived to be reality. A heady topic for sure, but handled in a way that never lets the play sink under its own weight.
Director Jim Strait did a fine job in keeping the play moving along at a brisk pace and getting the ensemble to deliver honest characters instead of caricatures.
The cast (and I wish I could spend time talking about each of them but I can’t or I would be stepping back into spoiler territory) is terrific.
As Gage Holland, the hotel manager, Winston Gieseke, skillfully shuttles between a deer-in-the-headlights fear and the voice of sanity and reason. In effect, he becomes the straight man to the ever growing outrageousness of everyone else around him.
Michael Pacas delivers just the right combination of control, condescension, smarminess, and anger to make ‘Hilly’ a three dimensional character as opposed to the caricature he could son easily become.
Melanie Blue exhibits a flawless sense of timing and a true flair for physical comedy in her portrayal of Estrella, the hotel maid who discovers the body. Not speaking a word of English, her first explanation of what she saw at the scene of the crime could easily bring tears to your eyes from laughing so hard.
My loudest bravo however goes to Yo Younger who, as Morgan Wright, is simply astonishing as the woman brought in to ‘fix’ everything. She can go from sweetness and light to threatening in the blink of an eye and you believe every second of it. She literally delivered a laugh and then, with just a threatening look, sent shivers down my spine. This performance is yet another example of why she is one of the best actresses in the Coachella Valley and would hold her own on any stage.
So don’t be caught napping and make it a point to go and see CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE at The Desert Rose Playhouse, 69-620 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage, Now through May 28,2017
CLARK GABLE SLEPT HERE
Review by Stephen Radosh