Yesterday, the New York Times ran a review of the the 11th annual Pacific Playwrights Festival in Costa Mesa, CA. The article winds up with an enthusiastic, four-paragraph mention of You, Nero, a play by Amy Freed (who wrote Restoration Comedy, a huge hit for us in 2006) which had a staged reading at the festival. One of the readers—deemed “magnificent” by the Times—was our very own Danny Scheie, who appeared in Restoration Comedy and who is in the rehearsal hall as I type this preparing for his Pericles roles (Helicanus, Simonides, and Boult).
In case you don’t feel like reading through the whole review, here are the paragraphs regarding You, Nero:
“…the festival drew to a close with a reading of Amy Freed’s You, Nero, an uproarious comedy set during the declining years of the Roman Empire. Even in a bare-bones staged reading—a format hardly congenial to a broad, bawdy gagfest—Ms. Freed’s play delighted almost from start to finish.
A spoof of theater through the ages—from Sophocles to A Chorus Line—You, Nero makes lively sport of contemporary American culture, as Ms. Freed imagines the mincing Nero (a magnificent Danny Scheie—but Nathan Lane might want to call his agent now) commissioning an image-primping pageant from a down-on-his-luck dramatist. Nero has banished tragedy, preferring fancy spectacles and saliva-generating gore-fests.
The slams at the puerile appeal of popular movies and television are predictable but still enjoyable, the theatrical in-jokes silly but inspired. Indeed, Ms. Freed’s gloriously funny play is its own argument for the continued viability of an endangered species, the stage comedy. I’m tempted to quote at length, but the play’s delirious charm would surely fizzle in sober newsprint.
For evidence of its irresistible appeal I’ll just report that the audience staggered out into the sunny spring afternoon with stomachs sore from laughter, and that I await a New York production with unusual relish.”