As the summer’s biggest movies start to roll out, Macha Monkey Productions presents some small-scale, alternative entertainment. …And Starring Claire From Hollywood, a new comedy by Jim Moran, is full of humanity, heart, and humor, all in a small town Pacific Northwest setting.
… And Starring Claire From Hollywood tells the story of a D-list Hollywood actress who returns to her hometown on the Oregon coast. She gets cast in a community theatre production of Noel Coward’s Private Lives along with a pompous local thespian, an airhead aspiring actress, and a guy who’s been a super-fan of hers since he was in middle school. The ragtag cast and crew struggle with feuds, romances, and career maneuvers, while keeping in mind that, no matter what happens, the show must, of course, go on.
In this new play, Jim Moran tells a down-to-earth story with plenty of touching and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s a relatively low-tension comedy of manners that nevertheless keeps the audience excited to see what happens next. It helps that well-rounded characters will ring especially true to anyone who’s been involved with community theatre. However, the show hits rough patches when it gets less true to life, most notably when Claire’s multiple soliloquies remove us from the realism of the world. Both these speeches and the play’s resolution feel indulgent and too long. But apart from some weak moments, …And Starring Claire From Hollywood tells its story with charm and skill.
The performances are also capable and engaging overall. We’re in good hands with Lisa Every as our protagonist, Claire Zimmer. Every brings to life her fish-out-of-water character’s wit, immaturity, and emotional struggles, qui-
ckly winning over the audience. Laurence Hughes has many of the play’s funniest moments as Leo, the pretentious, Richard Burton-idolizing, small town theatre impresario. Hughes keeps the character grounded, and nails his heavier dramatic moments as well as most of the more over-the-top comedic ones. From the supporting cast, Emily Haver stands out as a performer to watch, showing off comedic chops and bubbly charisma as ingenue Jana.
…And Starring Claire From Hollywood’s production team is led by director Amy Poisson, the incoming Artistic Director of Macha Monkey Productions. If this show is anything to go by, the company should continue to be in a good hands. Standout members of her production team include set and prop designer Brandon Estrella and costume designer Jocelyne Folwer. Estrella’s work in particular is the best use of the 18th & Union performance space that I’ve seen. His detailed, realistic set effectively introduces the world, and gets the audience interested even before the show starts.
This new play is definitely worth the trip to 18th & Union for any theatre fan. …And Starring Claire From Hollywood is a down-to-earth comedy with heart, humanity, and a lot of laughs.
…And Starring Claire From Hollywood by Jim Moran. Matcha Monkey Productions. 18th & Union 1406 18th Ave, 98122. 5/5 – 6/3, 8 pm. Tickets: https://machamonkey.secure.force.com/ticket/#details_a0Sj0000004Se6hEAC Info: https://18thandunion.org/and-starring-claire-from-hollywood