The experienced cast needs to work on its timing.
By LORRAINE SPENCER
YOUNGSTOWN — Area native Jack LoGiudice’s play “In the Moonlight Eddie” at the Oakland Center for the Arts is about many subjects: a washed-up playwright, an aging actress, a suicidal young man. But ultimately it is a touching piece about a man and his son.
Set in 1966, the story centers on playwright Gil Landau. Gil had once been a very successful Broadway writer, but has recently been producing flops. Then came “Rupert’s Melody,” which became a smash hit. Gil expects this success to make him happy, but first he must face some personal demons.
Gil’s friend and manager, Max, is engaged to leading actress Abby, whom Gil can’t stand. Gil’s son, Eddie, recently tried to commit suicide. Gil doesn’t now how to talk to his son, even though he insists he is better. The four meet in Gil’s apartment, along with housekeeper Henna, to celebrate the success of Gil’s play, but take turns fighting and being introspective. In the end, Gil is able to share a secret that has been tormenting him, and he and Eddie begin to repair their fractured relationship.
In this dialogue-driven play, it is important to have strong actors who can keep the show alive with their voices. Director Christopher Fidram has assembled an ideal cast of veteran area theater actors. As Gil, Tom O’Donnell carried the show. O’Donnell showed emotion with sincerity, his faced etched with anguish and grief.
Eric McCrea played Eddie with an appropriate mixture of awkwardness and angst. As aging stage star Abby, Denise Sculli was at times both confident and insecure, showing a fully developed sense of character. David Waldman, as Max, provided comic relief with perfect delivery and sarcasm.
Joyce A. Jones rounded out the cast as Henna, with a smart combination of care and irritation. Jack Wolbert, as the bartender, was unfortunately only seen in the opening scene of the play, but his character added brevity and fun.
The play was a short hour and 15 minutes, which was exactly the right length to come to its conclusion. The actors seemed to have some trouble with their pacing, speaking at the same time and hesitating. But the experienced cast will undoubtedly work out their timing as the play is performed.
“In the Moonlight Eddie” was an enjoyable mix of comedy and drama performed with the talent and professionalism that the Oakland has come to be known for.
XShow dates: Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. and Jan. 17, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m.