"Desperate Writers", a great gem-sized play at the Union Square Theater in NYC, is a hilarious and lamentable story of a couple who've been writing screenplays together for ten years without selling a single script. Ashley (Maddie Corman) and David (Jim Stanek) are a highly sympathetic duo. They are the desperate two of the title, but their desperation is a crack at the edge of their hopeful, cheery demeanor as they navigate their way through broken promises in Hollywood.
Ashley works in catering (her expertise at cooking is a key plot point in the 2nd act) and David is a pet photographer as their day jobs. There is an undercurrent of time pressure. He's got to "get his ducks in a row" before Ashley's biological clock stops ticking.
We sympathize with their plight as they wait patiently for hours to see a producer who keeps them at bay as he wields a golf club making restaurant and tee-off appointments. There is a surreal moment when they finally meet two Miramax executives who laugh like hyenas as they assure them that they "love love love!" their script but Ed has to read it first. "Who's Ed?" wonders David.
At one of Ashley's catering gigs, we meet three Hollywood producers of varying Goldilocks temperature: two very hot, one warm. They are saved from sterotype by breaking the fourth wall and telling the audience about their pressures: Jessica (Catherine Schreiber) bemoans the trap of the few women executives in Hollywood. A strong woman is a bitch, but you have to be strong to get anyone to do what you say. Burke (Christopher Durham) is a formerly hot producer who passed on Titanic and laments the loss of his nose for hits. Goldberg (Stephen Berger), the older producer whose been around, knows the score and suffers from Hollywood excess (hypertension, ulcers, etc.) sprinkles his language liberally with choice Yiddishisms.
At her wit's end, Ashley, the sensible one, takes a leap over the yawning abyss between "We love it!" and "Sorry, pass" from the exact same people and she drags David down with her. Or is it up with her?
Suffice it to say, there are actually two scripts involved: the play we're watching unfold and the one David acts out in a dazzling performance complete with a Sean Connery accent. His script involves God and Jose Reyes (not the same thing). The two stories dance around each other until they tie together with an embrace that makes you swoon.
Go see "Desperate Writers" if you want a lot of laughs and a blueprint about how to break into Hollywood after 10 years of following protocol.