The Cost of The Erection by Jon Marans is a story of warring architects and their wives. The play came out of a new play initiative put on by The Blank Theatre called The Living Room Series. The Blank’s stated goal is to offer “high-quality and entertaining works to audiences and to mentor emerging playwrights and artists.” I must take the Blank to task this once because neither the playwright nor the cast could be called “emerging.”
Marans is known for his works The Temperamentals and Old Wicked Songs, which is even now playing at the Colony Theatre in Burbank. As for the cast, Kal Bennett, three-time Emmy winning Michael E. Knight (All My Children), Robin Riker, and James Louis Wagner are all vets of Hollywood. While the playwright is lucky to get such experienced actors to “try out his play,” these actors are not “emerging” at all.
I am afraid that Artistic Director and director for this production Daniel Henning is becoming more and more tempted by names. The next show to come out of the Living Room Series is by Michael John LaChiusa, hardly an emerging artist.
I think it is terrific that the Blank can attract such talent, and their audience is certainly the beneficiary. I just wish The Cost of the Erection were a better play. Or maybe it is that I didn’t much like the characters. It is hard to get involved with uninvolving characters. The actors certainly showed their skill. I was particularly impressed with Robin Riker as the manipulative wife of her clownish husband played by Michael E Knight. She was annoying, but so was he, as characters that is. The other couple were hardly better, the ambitious Rod (James Louis Wagner) and his unfaithful wife Brenda (Kal Bennett).
There is some wife swapping here, all in the name of a contest as to which guy would decorate Susu’s (Robin Riker) new pad. And there is some intrigue to go with the good acting.
The Cost of the Erection will play at The Blank until March 18.