Friday, January 16, 2015

HELLMAN V. McCARTHY ...Beverly Hills

A true story.  Back in 1979 on the Dick Cavett Show author Mary McCarthy, who was known for her acid wit, said that Lillian Hellman “… is tremendously overrated, a bad writer, and dishonest writer…” Cavett asked, “What is dishonest about her?” McCarthy replied. “Everything… every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’!” The next morning Hellman, who was famous for her prickly personality and high sense of self-righteousness, started a $2.5 million libel suit against McCarthy, Cavett and WNET-TV. 

Mary McCarthy
Lillian Hellman
In a dramatic ’what if?’ playwright Brian Richard Mori has these two dynamic women confront each other onstage, with Cavett himself there to moderate and instigate - as he always did so well. Calling it A Literary Catfight, the NY Times critic said: “It’s hard to imagine this new play without Mr. Cavett’s astringently funny presence, which adds layers of charm and verisimilitude to a slender dramatic reconsideration of a famous literary feud."

So, Dick Cavett stars as himself, Flora Plumb portrays Lillian Hellman, and, reprising their roles from the New York production, Marcia Rodd is Mary McCarthy and Rowan Michael Meyer is Hellman’s caretaker. The play is directed by Howard Storm, whose fruitful career in TV included directing ‘Mork and Mindy’! and who, as a young comic, appeared on Cavett’s show in 1968.

Marcia Rodd & Dick Cavett
This Theatre 40 production is at The Reuben Cordova Theatre, 241 S. Moreno Drive, on Beverly Hills High School campus. Free underground parking. For tickets call (310) 364-3606 or online
Plays Feb 6 through 28.

There will also be one performance Sunday, March 1 at the Saban Theatre, Beverly Hills. Tickets at

Also written up in the February issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY


If you enjoy family get-togethers that end in screaming matches and only fall short of mass murder this is your kind of show. A hit in London's West End, it won the "Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy" for author Shelagh Stephenson.  Actually, its a great opportunity for female actors who need to go full throttle.  

The only domestic violence was by the women as they rocked the earth with sibling rage while their men were unbelievably forbearing. Mom is dead and apparently she had Alzheimers. Well, she is there from the distant past in one daughter’s memory and seems quite savvy. There’s a family secret – when isn’t there – but what this has to do with dementia one never discovers.
Jasmin De Main - Danette Garrelts - Alexa Asjes

Happily, the cast are all excellent. Danette Garrelts is often moving as the successful but haunted doctor-sister; Alexa Asjes has an hilarious meltdown as the homebody sister, while Jasmin De Main plays the hysterical youngest as possibly certifiable. 

Bette Smith is a little wispy as the gentle ghost of Mom; Frank Krueger is adorable as a philandering lover, and beleaguered husband Ralph Radebaugh has the patience of a saint amid all the ruckus.

Relocated to a wintry New England setting, the play is directed full blast by Vincent Lappas. It was adapted by Stephenson for the 2002 British film, ‘Before You Go,’ starring Julie Walters and Tom Wilkinson and directed by Lewis Gilbert.

At the Promenade Playhouse, 1404 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica.  Tickets at 310.960.7785 or

Also reviewed in the February issue of NOT BORN YESTERDAY