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Peter J. Nieves's


JACK, a writer/director - Christian Leffler
DAVID, a film producer - Dan Butler
AGNES, an independent film producer - Pamela Gordon
JIMMY, David’s chauffeur - Don Oscar Smith
LORY, a publicist, Jack’s girlfriend - Tara Chocol
FITZ, Jack’s oldest friend - Kevin Cristaldi
EDIE, an actress, Fitz’s girlfriend - Lauren Campedelli
HECK, Jack’s agent - Ken Roht
DALLAS, an old friend of Jack - Alyssa Bongiorno
GIGI, Jack’s secretary - Patricia Scanlon
SMITH, a waitress/actress - Dorie Barton
MONKEY MAN, a video director - Adrian A. Cruz
ANNE, an English guest - Lara Schwartzberg
MARIE, a French guest - Scarlett Rouge

Director - Bart DeLorenzo & Peter J. Nieves
Scenic Designer - Jason Adams
Lighting Designer - Lap-Chi Chu & Adam Greene
Costume Design - Ann Closs-Farley
Sound Design - John Zalewski
Prop Design - Ames Ingham

Producers - Bart DeLorenzo & Lori Nelson
Assistant Director - Tony Shaff

Stage Manager - Winnie Y. Lok
Assistant Stage Manager - Beth Mack

Graphic Design - Brian Flemming

November 14, 2002 - February 9, 2003

Tara Chocol (Lory), Christian Leffler (Jack), and Dan Butler (David)

Dorie Barton (Smith) and Christian Leffler (Jack)

Background: Christian Leffler (Jack)
Foreground: Alyssa Bongiorno (Dallas) and Patricia Scanlon (Gigi)

Lauren Campedelli (Edie) and Christian Leffler (Jack)


Los Angeles Times

Modern-day Hollywood is enough to make anyone, well, Cringe – and, naming his play accordingly, playwright Peter Nieves seeks to do exactly that. Completing the Evidence Room's "Hollywood Stories" trilogy of Tinseltown-themed new plays performed in repertory, Cringe is Nieves’ raw, sardonic re-envisioning of the Don Juan story set against the excesses of the film biz.

What begins as a Steve Martin-esque parody of power lunches (replete with air kisses and mass fumbling whenever a cell phone rings) gathers darkening malevolence as we follow the skyrocketing career of Jack Cringe (convincingly played by Christian Leffler), a screenwriter who finds that the more badly he behaves, the higher his star rises. A path of betrayal (especially of the women he uses and discards) leads Jack to the same place as his literary predecessor – only Jack’s hell (a crimson-lighted pool party) is even harder to distinguish from his normal milieu.

Hollywood is an easy target for co-directors Nieves’ and Bart DeLorenzo’s Moliere-inspired jabs at hypocrisy, but for all of their obviousness, the blows connect with devastating force, thanks to superb ensemble performances.

Topping the charts is Dan Butler’s hilariously savage portrait of an imperious film producer whose ethics never rise above the level of his bodily functions. Other standout caricatures from the large cast include Lauren Campedelli’s self-absorbed actress, Don Oscar Smith as the producer’s gravelly chauffeur, Patricia Scanlon as David’s loopy secretary, and Pamela Gordon as an indie film producer desperate to break into the big leagues.

Without recourse to nudity, the play’s merciless, edgy staging effectively conjures the depths of squalid hedonism, amid an increasingly surreal tone reminiscent of a David Lynch film

– Philip Brandes

LA Weekly

Cringe takes a probing look straight up the anus of the human spirit. In fact, Peter J. Nieves’ Hollywood satire opens with a sardonically vicious movie producer (Dan Butler) farting at dinner. A later scene features the same charmer, Dave, on his belly next to his chauffeur (Don Oscar Smith), both receiving enemas as Dave yatters on his cell phone. Nieves’ heart-of-darkness nihilism hangs over his often eloquently grotesque play. With the possible exception of a beautiful actress-waitress named Smith (Dorie Barton), all of the characters are stunningly repellent – grasping, misogynistic and homophobic, wavering between sadism and self-loathing. The overblown parodies place a burden of wit on Cringe that it can’t quite carry, so it relies instead on gleeful offensiveness and lurid psychological cruelty. The story follows Jack (Christian Leffler), the flash-in-the-pan author of a pornographic story he seems to take quite seriously, and his ridiculous attempt to stay true to his art when converting the thing to the screen – call it Dante’s descent into Palm Desert. Despite Leffler’s richly grimy portrayal, Jack is defined by his perversions, so the question remains whether hideous Hollywood is fucking him up, or if he’d wind up in the same hell if he’d chosen instead to work for Pep Boys. It’s also unclear whether Jack’s coveted screenplay is actually any good, which raises the question of what, exactly, is at stake. For all that, it’s a lovely production filled with glorious William Burroughs-like riffs, co-directed by Nieves and Bart DeLorenzo with mostly excellent performances, and only a couple of lame ones. John Zalewski’s sound design is beyond reproach – so what else is new?

– Steven Leigh Morris

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