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Based on a Totally True Story

a Comedy
by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 1666

SHOWING : November 02, 2006 - December 02, 2006



Fact proves more entertaining than fiction in this clever comedy, which is making it’s regional premiere in this second staging. Ethan Keene is a young playwright and comic book writer who's on the verge of breaking through. When a veteran Hollywood producer decides she wants to turn one of his plays into a horror movie, the frenzy that follows forces him to deal with the real drama in his life - his relationships with his boyfriend and his father. From the playwright who brought Atlanta SAY YOU LOVE SATAN and WEIRD COMIC BOOK FANTASY at Dad’s Garage.

Director Matt Huff
Costume Designer Jim Alford
Scenic Charge Painter Amy Ferguson
Technical Director Megan Kier
Scenic Designer Derek Kinsler
Lighting and Sound Designer Joseph P. Monaghan III
Stage Manager Alicia Quirk
Assistant Director Melissa Roy
Assistant Stage Manager Matt Stephens
Ethan Keene Jeremy Aggers
Michael Sullivan Alex Brooks
Ethan's Dad Mark Gray
Tyler, Apple Boy, Kim's Guy, and Hot L.A Quint Von Canon
Mary Ellen Kathleen Wattis
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Based on a Totally Nice Story
by Dedalus
Thursday, December 7, 2006

If I were asked to describe Actor’s Express recently-closed production of “Based on a Totally True Story” (by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa), it would be Nice. Ethan is a Nice writer (the “Flash” comic books) with a Nice boyfriend (a novelist/writer for the "Village Voice") and has written a play optioned by a Nice Hollywood Movie Producer. Meanwhile, his father is going through a Nice divorce. The fact that Ethan’s play is gloomy and depressing and the characters at one time or another talk themselves into self-indulgent depressions and angers does not take away from the Niceness of the whole conceit.

I may be getting older and less cycnical, but, for once, I don’t think this is such a bad idea.

There is an appealing irony in the fact that the conflicts (in both Ethan’s relationship and his parents’ divorce) are caused by talented “Wordsmiths” making decisions not to talk, to keep things unsaid that would be better voiced in the open. They may be wizards at using words to create fictional worlds or negotiate Hollywood Deals, but when it comes to their own lives, emotions make them feel safer in silence, puts them at a loss for words.

This theme is really nothing new and could be called glib, if playwright Aguirre-Sacassa weren’t such a talented wordsmith himself. I had no trouble accepting these characters at face (or word) value, no trouble being interested in their misadventures and successes and failures. The glibness was also ameliorated by the somewhat bittersweet ending – all things aren’t fixed, and payment must be made for mistakes and things left unsaid.

And, not to belabor the point, a lot of this has to do with the niceness of Ethan and his friends and the playwright’s judgment-free take on his characters. This is not a play with an agenda, but one in which the characters are let free to err and succeed and learn and grow. Hardly Glib. Definitely Nice.

The play has closed, the set has been struck, and the actors have moved on to other gigs (we hope). In retrospect, this production deserves a nod for taking a simple tale and giving it the energy and honesty usually reserved for “edgy” and “important” works. In the final analysis, it’s sometimes worth remembering that theatre doesn’t always need to be cutting edge or waving a political banner or dive into the mysterious ethos that is the human dilemma. It’s worth remembering that watching pleasant people live their lives, enjoy their failures and successes, and learn from their mistakes can be valid and even memorable.

And, to this cynical old fart, that makes for a Nice evening in the theatre.

-- Brad Rudy (


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