FOUR DOGS AND A BONE: Theatrical Foray into Ferocious World of Film-making

by Lisa Panzer

Adam Corbett of Collingswood NJ, left, and Michael Vuccola of New Castle DE star in the Colonial Playhouse production of FOUR DOGS AND A BONE, John Patrick Shanley’s comic satire of the movie business. The show runs weekends through January 28. For information call 610-622-5773.

John Patrick Shanley, screenwriter of the films “Moonstruck” and “Doubt”, unleashes a producer, writer and two ambitious actresses upon the stage to fight over the framework of a film in the seeming absence of an already weak director. Teeth bared, four letter growling, pawing at the film’s plot and character possibilities in accordance to will, these four characters will stop at nearly nothing to get what they want. They are willing to bargain away relationships, calculatingly copulate, or bandage butt boils in parlaying for power to be “top dog”.

The Dogs

The lingua franca between the four characters consists mainly of expletives, vulgarities, and profanities.

Bradley, the film producer (convincingly played by Michael Vuccola) is aptly told by the film’s writer, “If you had a friend, you’d eat him.” Bradley speaks in showbisms. He tells the writer that in film “cutting is control” but only because the film is over budget and he wants scenes cut out in order to save it. He says theater is the “outback of entertainment” because he wants to replace the film’s seasoned stage actress whose close-ups look like “kabuki” on the screen. His bone picking manifests as palpable pain in his derriere.

Brenda (hilariously well portrayed by Alexandra Orgera), while off-screen, plays an enchanting chantress who’s life story sounds surreptitiously like a practiced monologue she delivers to everyone who’ll listen. Seemingly an airhead, she is ruthless and wants to be famous at any cost. Brenda has ideas on how the script should be rewritten. She chants. And bites.

Collette (beautifully done by Bonnie Grant) is a gorgeous veteran actress whose last chance to play an ingenue part lies in getting the writer to change the film’s plot or forever after be relegated to character roles. She drunkenly begs and pleads with him, tries seduction, beats on him, screams at him, threatens him, and even tries some logic on him, but he is either completely drunk himself or amazingly stubborn. Or both.

Victor (well handled by Adam Corbett) is a nobody writer with a chance to make a name for himself. He, in the end, somehow avoids falling (total) victim to the other three, and manages to end up holding some cards of his own. Adam Corbett does a great job with Victor’s transitions.

The overall acting is strong, the characters are well placed physically on the stage, and move well on it.

Oh, and John D’Alonzo does diversified dying wonderfully on screen!

Innovative interspersion of video clips (Andrew W. Geller, Todd Holtsberry) for scene changes added an interesting dimension. Also, clever set construction, coordination and design gave additional strength to the script, as well as good manipulation and use of music throughout the production. Director Todd Holtsberry, and cast and crew of FOUR DOGS AND A BONE have done an outstanding job with this show.

The Bone

If you want to see who gets the bone in the end….go!

By John Patrick Shanley
Directed Todd Holtsberry
January 13 – 28, 2012
Colonial Playhouse
522 W. Magnolia Ave
Aldan, PA 19018-0091

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