Often when I leave a Phoenix Theatre show I think, “Ah, that was some good food for thought.” But when I left after seeing the hilarious Clark Gable Slept Here by Michael McKeever last Thursday night, I thought, “That was like expensive champagne: frothy and decadent.”
I also felt as if the glass was empty too soon. By the clock the show is an hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission, but when the actors came out for their curtain call I almost forgot to applaud because I was thinking, “Wait, is that all there is?”
It wasn’t until I was driving home that I realized the champagne — I mean the show — was more potent than it seemed.
The story takes place in an elegant Hollywood hotel bedroom (set designed by Jim Ream), part of the penthouse suite, on the night of the Golden Globe Awards. When the lights first come up, there is a naked dead man on the floor.
The hotel manager and the maid are talking frantically with the tuxedoed agent of the action-adventure movie star that rented the room and apparently hired the dead man for sex. The maid wants to go to church and the manager wants to call the police, but the agent insists that they all stay put while he calls in a favor from a someone that can make the body — and any related scandal — disappear. She arrives in her Golden Globes gown and jewels, annoyed at being called away from the event but determined to clear her debt to the agent.
The foursome’s attempts to accomplish the goal of dealing with the dead prostitute include surprise after surprise. Sometimes I stopped breathing myself, I was laughing so hard.
But what ultimately makes the show satisfying is that under Bryan Fonseca’s direction, each of the five excellent actors (Joshua Coomer, Maria Diaz, Charles Goad, Jen Johansen, and Tyler Ostrander) helps the playwright make a layered, cynical statement about human resistance to change. Is it depressing or a wake-up call? Or both? I’m still trying to decide.