Every week the staff of Manhattan’s renowned Drama Book Shop undertakes the formidable challenge of helping actors find the best monologues for auditions and classes, answering hundreds of questions regarding the latest—and classic—plays from the U.S. and around the world; and recommending theatre craft titles–from lighting design to beating the pavement–which give best value. They even have a working theatre in their basement!

Here they are on Stage Voices, picking the best of published work to keep us up to date and aware of the little known—the next best thing to actually being in the shop, listening to their wise counsel and sage advice. 

DRAMA BOOK SHOP WEEKLY PICK:

 

 ALMOST BLUE by KEITH REDDIN

An unknown yet brilliant gentleman (or gentlewoman) once said, "It's more fun to be bad then to be good." Truer words were never spoken. Whether you are an actor, writer, or just a regular old Joe who wandered in off the street, we all root for the bad guy (at least in our art). If you disagree then I ask you to take note of the characters/roles that won the last two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor: A psychotic, serial killing clown with a lavish taste for the theatrical in his terrorism; and a cold blooded yet cheerful Nazi colonel more frightening then the Terminator and Hitler put together. And yet, with everything we have to judge them against, characters like these make for great entertainment. Why? Because they make the choice to be who they are.

 

Almost Blue is a stage noir about characters who aren't exactly the type of people your mother would have been proud to have over for dinner. Our lead character, Phil, is a newly released ex-con who spends his days and nights drinking away his "freedom" in a seedy rooming house. (Think Humphrey Bogart meets Barney from the Simpsons.) Blue is an elderly gentleman who lives below Phil and writes pornographic greeting cards. Liz is a the femme fatale who's loyalty seems to change depending on which guy she's talking to. And Steve, Liz's ex-boyfriend and Steve's ex-cell mate, is known to have a bit of a violent streak in him. What makes these characters interact so well is their need for personal connection–that need to connect with any given stranger because that person in the mirror has become the greatest stranger of all. It is Phil's need to "do the right thing, at least before I'm completely worthless," which ties him to the motives of all the other characters.

 

In a noir tale, it is often the most conflicted and morally lost individual who holds all the power; the power to make a choice. All of the characters try to tempt Phil into going along with their plan of how to continue on the road of life when the pavement suddenly turns to gravel. Blue vies for Phil's friendship, Steve looks for Phil's muscle, and Liz looks for the good man she claims is still alive. Or perhaps they're simply looking to Phil for something else–something in him that he's trying ever so desperately to drown out.

 

Almost Blue is a great character piece for actors in there 30s-50s with a twist ending worth the read alone. Men, great scene work between Phil and Blue as well as Phil and Steve. Women, great monologue for Liz pg 37-38 as well as scene work with Phil.

Cast: 3M, 1W

Review by: Matt Alspaugh

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