Any play by famed British playwright Peter Quilter is likely to please the audience. The author of “End of the Rainbow” on Judy Garland’s final days and “Glorious” about opera amateur Florence Foster Jenkins, Quilter has described himself as a “writer as entertainer,” a writer who wants the audience to have an enjoyable, truly great time watching his shows. When he was threatened with a touch of “writer’s block” recently, Quilter decided to pen a comedy about an author suffering from the very same malady.
Alex (Eric Myrick) just can’t seem to get a really earth-shaking idea to titillate his fingers into doing a dance on his computer keyboard. That’s right. Writer’s block has set in. Alex decides that steps must be taken, and these steps include going on a writer’s retreat in an old country house situated on a lake in rural England. As it turns out, two other authors had the same idea, the sexy Shelley (Alexandra Ruth Wright) who specializes in steamy romance novels, and Damien (Ian McQuown), who prefers the dark and often gory side of life.
When these three meet in the cozy home of landlady Maureen (Wendy Worthington), sparks are sure to fly. As each begins to write, stories start to come alive in the remote dwelling – stories about shipwrecks, mysterious assassins, and other odd and sundry fictions that only the inspired can create. Actors Julia Davis and Sam Spanjian breathe life into these writers’ random narratives. An old hand at directing Quilter productions, Jane Page helms the world premiere comedy with a deft hand. The talented cast do a brilliant (and sometimes acrobatic) job of conveying Quilter’s tale. Their English accents, by the way, are nearly flawless. Special kudos to Wendy Worthington, who is perfectly cast as the diddly captain of the shaky ship. With a toss of her head and a raised brow, she silently says volumes.
Christopher Scott Murillo’s scenic design is perfect for the English comedy. With the able assistance of Stacy McKenney-Norr’s lighting, Kim DeShazo’s costumes, and Corwin Evans’ sound, the production team competently carries on. BESTSELLER is a clever idea, but also one which may not resonate with the average audience member to the extent that Quilter hoped. In fact, several audience members remarked that they had difficulty identifying with the three authors. In a stiff-upper-lip “terribly British” manner, BESTSELLER can be witty and fun. However, it is with their nonverbal body movements that the cast come into their own. Physicality is definitely a plus in this farce.
BESTSELLER runs through June 30, 2019, with performances at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. The International City Theatre is located in the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 330 East Seaside Way, Long Beach, CA 90802. Tickets range from $47 through $55. For information and reservations, call 562-436-4610 or go online.