Last Call at Moby Dick's Theater Review

I never heard of Ed Marill until I saw Last Call at Moby Dick's but the man knows how to write funny, emotive and damn well. I surmised from the title that the action takes place in a bar so that generated my interest. But, the name Moby Dick brought back horror of junior high. The classic novel written by Herman Melville, which never became popular in his lifetime, is not a happy story.


When the protagonist is a legless ship captain with serious issues and antagonist is an angry whale with an attitude, the story won't be going anywhere positive. This version of Moby Dick, thankfully, has nothing do with the novel. The elements, however, of the ocean, being surrounded by people who are on the same page, are still present. Mike and Caroline are a married couple on the road to bankruptcy and divorce. Mike (Ed Marill) owns the bar Moby Dick's in Delray Beach, Florida. Caroline (Stacy Keanan) his wife of seven years wants Mike to sell Moby Dick's and return to their comfortable life in Charleston. Mike, of course, wants to stay and work at making Moby Dick's a success.

Caroline the pragmatic half in this fragile relationship understands that when a mortgage check bounces it's not a good sign to continue a business. Against Caroline is Mike's high school best friend, who never grew up to be a functional adult, and neighborhood drug dealer Trip (Steven J. Pershing). Trip doesn't want Mike to close down the bar especially since his bar tab is over $400, which Caroline reminds him. You can almost hear the wheels screeching in our minds thinking, what is this sophisticated well educated southern debutante doing with this pot smoking, slacker who has a problem charging people, mainly friends for drinks.

Moby Dick's is not just a money-pit monstrosity. It's the place where Mike and his friends hung out and shared a lot of fun memories. Besides Trip, there's former waitress turned nurse Penny (Cori Clark Nelson) who stops in for a drink and a smoke and relives the good times. Hot actor from L.A. Jeff (Krishna Le Fan) is the only denizen who left. Jeff takes a break from his highly successful cop drama, Malibu PD for a quick visit. The gang catches him up on what's been going on since he left to make it big in Hollywood. Jeff also has high school memory he can't forget. That would be his ex-girlfriend Brooke (Amy Motta) who had the audacity to leave him.

Now that he's in the big boys league like Pitt and Clooney, he figured he could show the newly divorced Brooke what she missed out on. He can't understand why she isn't bathing his feet in holy water when they awkwardly meet at the bar. Le Fan played Jeff with the arrogance and obnoxiousness of your typical Hollywood actor. But, his wise cracking personality made it impossible to hate him, so don't even try. He is Vince from the show Entourage only more successful and talented and tantalizing eye candy.

The high school friends come together and reminisce how it used to be. They envisioned as teenagers what their lives would be like at 30. Apparently, a lot of dreaming and smoking weed clouded their judgment. Some naturally moved on the next phase in thier lives, while some stayed comfortably in the past. Caroline is the voice of reason who makes the others see they are living in the past.

This involves having Penny, Jeff, Brooke and especially Trip to look at themselves and accept that those good times are gone and it is  time to make another life. Marill, who also wrote the play, provided invaluable insight on people who are comfortably stuck refusing to grow up. It's almost as if the characters are afraid to see what would happen if they took the next step. Trip considers himself to be the apothecary messiah. Something big must happen for the friends to change and that catalyst comes in the shape of Nicole (Avery Brown) Trip's way under aged girlfriend.

The short time Brown was on stage made a compelling impression to the audience and the characters. From a distance, she forced everyone to wake up and leap into adulthood. Moby Dick's was Brown's debut appearance on the L.A. stage and she finessed it with the skills of a veteran. Former child actor Keanan did a marvelous job as the no-nonsense, a little uptight, but with good reason, Caroline.

She loves her husband and stands by him but she doesn't want to be poor in proving her devotion. Keanan was convincing, strong minded and could defend herself beautifully using her words as daggers. Pershing, who co-produced, as Trip as felt the stinging marks. It was good to see the actress in an adult role and hopefully we will see her more on stage. I imagine Marill has been hiding in his hometown of the real Delray Beach working on his play until he was ready to show it off. If that's the case, Last Call at Moby Dick's was worth the wait.



Last Call at Moby Dick's plays at The McCadden Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood, runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. until Saturday, July 21. For tickets call (323) 960-5521 or visit www.plays411.com/mobydicks.

 

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