Monday, March 5, 2012

Life's a Pitch

My great late Aunt Mimi used to say that if the Hartlands had to make our living selling things, we'd all starve.  If I ever doubted her wisdom (and I don't), then Claochlu Studios production of Hospitality Suite by Roger Reuff would convince me.

Clauchlu is a joint venture between Cup-A-Jo Productions and 72nd Street Films and their first venture looks at three salesman for an industrial lubrication manufacturer try to land the big sale.

The acting is superb. 

Matt Henderson plays the "new guy" Bob, who is a devout Christian.  Henderson (who specializes in milquetoast roles) shines. 

Everett Lowe is Phil, a divorced father of four daughters who is undergoing a mid-life crisis.  Lowe gives a quiet, underplayed performance of a man who is emotionally torn inside.

As the smug and obnoxious Larry, Jeff Monahan gives the memorable performance of Hospitality Suite.  Monahan becomes the smartass you just want to punch square in the face, but he is also able to capture the softer side of this arrogant salesman.

Director Joanna Lowe manages to keep the blocking in this production moving--which is no small feat considering this script is three men in a room talking...and talking...and talking.  A new slant on this production is that it is also being projected live on screen at the back of the stage.  I didn't really understand why this was done, especially when I was often distracted by them.

While I so enjoyed the outstanding performances, I still don't understand what the play is about as so many issues are discussed.  Is Hospitality Suite about business or religion or salesmanship or what?  Playwright Reuff goes on and on and on--but to what ends?  It make me glad I'm not s salesman.

Hospitality Suite continues through March 11 at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

The talents of Joseph A. Roots are wasted in a small role of a drunk at the top of Act Two.  The role does nothing to move the play along, but Roots gives it his all.

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