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Clark Gable Slept Here

a Comedy
by Michael McKeever

COMPANY : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5224

SHOWING : January 31, 2018 - February 11, 2018



There’s more hiding in Hollywood’s closet than Tom Ford tuxedos, and Jarrod Hilliard, agent to megastars, is determined to keep it all there! When the corpse of a male prostitute is found in his client’s hotel room during the Golden Globe Awards, Hilliard is left to make the problem disappear. But, when you work in a world of make-believe, everyone is acting and nothing is what it seems.

Director Paul Conroy
Hilly Bryan Brendle
Estella Jessica McGuire
Morgan Wright Wendy Melkonian
Travis Spencer Kolbe Miller
Gage Ben Thorpe
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Clark Howard Slept Here
by playgoer
Sunday, February 11, 2018
More male nudity. We’ve had it recently in "Silence! The Musical," in both parts of "Angels in America," in "The Mystery of Love and Sex," and now in "Clark Gable Slept Here." At least this time it isn’t full frontal. But it does last for a long time, as Spencer Kolbe Miller lies tastefully posed on a chaise longue as a corpse for the first half of the intermissionless play.

The lovely art deco-inspired set by Michael Hidalgo represents an upscale penthouse in a hotel with a long Hollywood history. We see the door to the room up center, with a foyer leading to a bathroom. In the room itself, a big bed is angled from the up left corner toward center stage, with a matching chest of drawers on the upstage wall. A table stage right acts as the bar, and seating is scattered around. A flat-screen TV is perched in the down right corner of the stage, and is ostensibly turned on to view the Golden Globe awards, with delightful voiceovers by Carl & Carrie Christie.

The hotel room is that of a major action star nominated for a Golden Globe, and the corpse in the room is of a gay hustler he has spent the last few days with, as evidenced in part by the clothing tossed around and a number of empty liquor bottles. The hotel manager (Ben Thorpe) has called the star’s manager (Bryan Brendle) after a Hispanic maid (Jess Arcelay) has discovered the body. Morgan Wright (Wendy Melkonian) has been called in to handle the situation, using whatever means are necessary to keep the secret life of the action star just that – secret.

The plot concerns the sordid gay underbelly of the Hollywood film industry, and it isn’t that engaging. None of the characters are people we can really root for, and the murky morality at play infects just about every one of them. There are some funny moments and situations, but none that rise to the level of satisfying farce. The denouement feels extended, as if the playwright felt that some sort of moral was required to counter the amorality of the play as a whole. It all leaves a fairly sour taste in the mouth.

Costumes are a highlight of the show, under Jeanne Fore’s stewardship. Mr. Miller doesn’t have much to wear, obviously, but the others are garbed appropriately. Ms. Melkonian’s gown is absolutely gorgeous, its elegant black bodice fading into a sunset-tinged ombré in the skirt and train. Props are good too.

Paul Conroy has directed the show with a lot of action, but has included a few moments when actors go downstage center to deliver monologues in what feels a very artificial way. Mr. Hidalgo’s general lighting is fine, but the spotlighted moments (including the one at the tail end of the play) fall a little flat. The show is professionally directed, but doesn’t seem inspired.

Performances are all good, with Ms. Melkonian a standout delight, as always. Ms. Arcelay and Mr. Miller also do good work with their roles. Mr. Brendle and Mr. Thorpe are adequate, but haven’t given their characters endearing quirks that would help them engage audience sympathy. "Clark Gable Slept Here" is a less-than-stellar piece of entertainment that doesn’t seem targeted at a general audience, and with its old-fashioned feel and vulgar language doesn’t seem suited either to ART Station or to Out Front Theatre Company (of which director Paul Conroy is the founder). [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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