"Don't Talk" is loud fun
By Kathleen Allen
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona Published: 05.08.2009
Tom Dudzick knows what's funny: his life. • It's where he draws most of his inspiration for his comedies, including the 2007 play "Don't Talk to the Actors," which Invisible Theatre opens next week. • When he sits down to write a new play, said Dudzick in a phone interview from New York City, he has to get personal. • "I sit and think what is meaningful to me, what's happened to me, what am I involved in and feel strongly enough to write about," he said.
Curt (Douglas Mitchell) and Bea (Liz McMahon) try to persuade fledgling playwright Jerry (Eric Schumacher, center) that he needs to make changes to his script.
So when he sat down to write "Don't Talk," he remembered going to New York with his first play to make it to the Big Apple, "Greetings."
"Putting up 'Greetings' was fearful and awful," he recalled.
It starred Darren McGavin of "Night Stalker" fame.
"This play didn't come about because of him," said Dudzick, "but he gave me some tough moments."
While his experience wasn't funny at the time, gaining perspective sure made it so.
"Don't Talk" is about Jerry Przpezniak, a 30-something, very green behind the ears, playwright. He and his intended, Arlene Wyniarski, are in New York for rehearsals of his new play.
They can't believe it: pencils neatly lined up at the actors' places at the table, a view of the Empire State Building outside the rehearsal room, and it stars Curt Logan, a washed-up TV star who still shines bright in Arlene's eyes.
She loves, loves, loves Curt and just can't wait to meet him. The stage manager, however, warns her to stay away — the actors don't like to be spoken to.
Naturally, the two lead actors in Jerry's play have some whacked-out ideas on how to make it better. And they all involve making their scenes brighter, bigger, brassier.
"The whole thing about the naive kid, the playwright, coming to New York — it was semi-autobiographical," said Dudzick.
"Most of it is fiction, but it's based on some true elements."
Dudzick has about a half-dozen plays under his belt, but "Don't Talk" remains his favorite.
"It's so funny and so close to home," he said. "I love this play. To hear the audience's laughter is very rewarding."
And it's likely to roll easily. The script is full of many moments that ring hilariously true.
"It's honest and universal," said Susan Claassen, who is directing the play.
"The characters are all charming in their own way. And the humor — when I read it, I laughed out loud, which is rare when reading a script. It has a magic about it."
Contact reporter Kathleen Allen at email@example.com or 573-4128.
• "Don't Talk to the Actors"
• Playwright: Tom Dudzick.
• Director: Susan Claassen.
• When: Preview is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday; regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays through May 31.
• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.
• Tickets: $16 preview; $22-$25 regular performances. Half-price tickets, subject to availability, can be purchased 30 minutes before all shows.
• Reservations/information: 882-9721.
• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.
• Cast: Dallas Thomas, Eric Schumacher, David Johnston, Douglas Mitchell, Liz McMahon, Carrie Hill.