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Heaven's Den

Edward II

Fool for Love

White Biting Dog

Beltway Roulette

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Romeo and Juliet



Tim Abell - Ted

Joe Gregori - Mike

John D. LeMay - Al

Rodney Rowland - Hicks

Mark Sivertsen - CIA Agent Browner

Director - Scott Campbell

Producers - Kristen Cloke, Lee D'Angelo & Kerry Hill

Associate Producers - Stefanie Seifer & Holly Wilson

Set Design - Matthew Jacobs

Lighting Design - Russ Ketteringham

Sound Design - Drew Dalzell

Costume Desin - Nadine Parkos & Gelareh Khalioun

Written by Tom Grimes

Performed by The Alliance Repertory Company 8th October 2004 - 14th November 2004.

"Why let a lie and a war get in the way of making a great movie?"

Al, a tinsel town Don Quixote, disillusioned with his career as a lawyer longs to to follow his dream of directing a great "Spielbergian epic". Al hooks up with Mike, a young ambitious writer to create a movie marketer's dream but this is all set aside when Ted, a slick and successful businessman offers Al a chance to direct a "B movie action flick". What Al doesn't know is that his masterpiece, set in an undisclosed location, may be much more than he bargained for.


Review from LA Weekly Online

Playwright Tom Grimes depicts Washington and Hollywood as twin mirrors, endlessly reflecting each other. John Wayne wannabe George W. launches pre-emptive wars and struts in combat attire, and Hollywood produces films glorifying war and warriors. And so it is with Grimes' characters: CIA Agent Browner plays his role as a chiseled, cold-eyed Clint Eastwood clone. Movie producer Ted has a narcissistic passion for body-care products. Lawyer-cum-loan-shark Al longs to make movies like Spielberg, drug-smuggling bush pilot Hicks brandishes his sculpted physique with more flair than Rambo, and young screenwriter Mike is everybody's fall guy. An Unidentified Source has agreed to put up a $100 million for Al to shoot his film, but the movie is just a cover for delivering illegal arms to Freedom Fighters in an Unidentified Country. Everybody lies, cheats and steals, but Browner is furious when the Freedom Fighters turn the weapons he has just delivered against himself. "I hate getting fucked by the guy I'm fucking," he snarls. Al, suddenly caught in the middle of a war, sees only cinematic possibilities. The clever script is full of quotable one-liners, whose comic exaggerations reflect current realities. It's acted with finesse by the cast, and Grimes and Director Scott Campbell deserve credit for stirring up a storm of tragi-farcical mayhem with only five actors.

Another Review

Set on a Hollywood sound stage full of iconic Los Angeles locations, our modern day Don Quixote, Al, seeks his dreams of fame and fortune in tinsel-town.
But that's only the half of it.
You see, Al is moving into the film business. Disillusioned by his choices in life, including his successful career as a lawyer, Al stakes his entire future on the dream of one day directing a great Spielbergian epic. However, in the meantime, ANY movie will do. Al convinces his young writing protégé, Mike, to write a "spec" script that that will make them both money: "VIRUS", a can't-miss formulaic horror/thriller, built around the talent pool currently available, "some girls who'll take their clothes off."
But, as Al soon finds out, in Hollywood , anything is possible. With the right friends and new -found associates, Al is positioned to direct something bigger than VIRUS: a war epic with major funding and logistical support beyond his wildest dreams. Never mind the perilous film location: A mountain desert locale in the Middle East . Is this the perfect setting for Al to direct his first, and perhaps final, film masterpiece?

Joe Gregori

John D LeMay

Tim Abell

Rodney Rowland

Mark Sivertsen


Review By J H Kimbrell

Originally performed in 1990, Tom Grimes' two act play "Spec" might have been inspired by events in South Africa - and in turn carried over to events in the Gulf - but its poignant theme of imperialistic money grubbing still holds today, if not more so. Spec 2004 was only slightly adapted from the original; the same structure is still there, only a few names have changed. We see two primary examples of this imperialism at work in the film industry and in warfare, penetrating the most subtle levels of the play and woven skillfully into dialogue that is delivered at a rapid fire pace.
Black ops specialist Browner is commissioned with a plan to use the shooting of an action film in an "undisclosed location" as a front to running guns to a revolutionary uprising. He meets with a hidden contact to confirm this plan, and the stage is set.
Meanwhile, director-wannabe attorney Al nudges young screenwriter Mike to write a horror flick, titled VIRUS, that will sell for the big bucks. What Mike produces is "too cerebral" for its core audience (according to Al) and therefore too good to sell because it will force its audience to think. Any screenwriter who's had to deal with dumbing down a script for similar reasons will understand poor Mike's predicament: integrity versus getting paid. With a little forked tongue talk on how "money is a secondary concern" and quality of life is what really matters, Al convinces Mike to rewrite VIRUS.
Enter Ted an investment banker, suave and greedy and ready to rise to the bait of producing the "film" funded by Browner's secret sources. They have a bit of a history; Ted owes Browner a favor which the mercenary is bent on collecting. The figures for the supposed film, which originally started out at 100 million dollars, have dropped to eighty, twenty million of which go to Ted. It doesn't take much - the tune of fifty million (notice how Ted trimmed off ten million of the sixty-million left from the eighty-million budget) - to get Al on board as the director of the film. It seems Al's ethic on quality of life is as big a smoke screen as the film project and he soon moves on to infect young Mike to drop the VIRUS project and write the action script.
With a director, a producer, and a screenwriter all established, next up is Hicks the unsavory bush pilot who will be running guns into the mysterious country and flying out film canisters which Browner instructs him to burn.
Act one is set in various locations around Los Angeles from Al's office, to a pier at the beach, to a bar. The set itself is fairly plain, with just enough props and a stream of sound effects that move the audience's imaginations to help fill in the blanks as to where the characters are meeting. This is an example of the Alliance Repertory's reputation for audience involvement. The peaceful cry of seagulls and hush of waves on the beach, or the dance music at the bar, creates a juxtaposition with the sound effects to follow in the second act.
Act two sees our little group a few weeks later set up in a tent on location for the film shoot. The heat is up as Al, Ted, and Mike are forced to come to the reality that they've been used and are in process of being dropped like a bad habit. Browner's source, to whom he was supplying the weapons for revolution, has turned the same weapons on Browner and now the film crew is affected. Ted, Al, and Mike all peek out of a tent flap and report seeing executions and beatings. As an audience, we are practically in the tent with them, but just keeping our distance. Ted compulsively grooms himself with a huge selection of hair and skin care products. This behavior is incredibly funny but also understandable as not simple vanity but also expressing revulsion to the horror and filth of traveling in a war-torn, third-world region. As explosions begin to more heavily rock the scene, Ted falls apart, clinging to his trunk of grooming products like it's his last link to civilization. Al gradually loses himself more in the moment, imagining it all as a movie and despairing that no one has cameras rolling on all of the "free footage" going on outside the tent. When Mike is shot, it's to the corner of the stage where the nearest audience members can worry that bullets really are flying in their direction.
Browner and Hicks offer no assistance. They make a run for it as the bombs begin to drop, leaving "Moe, Larry, and Curly," as Hicks calls them, behind. As comical as the comment sounds, it's hard core truth; Ted, Al, and Mike have been made stooges by Browner's failed plan and by their own greed letting money get in the way of good judgment.
At roughly ninety minutes long, with a fifteen minute intermission, Spec feels like it moves much faster. Director Scott Campbell does wonders with five actors and a small space. A fog machine provides dust and smoke effects along side the rumbles of bombs dropping and the crack of bullets flying, taking everyone on a ride. Timing is essential for both dialogue and action as the characters are thrown around from the distant "bomb" impact, giving the impression that the whole theater is shaking, and everyone is right on cue. The most honest characters are Ted and Hicks (though we see far less of Hicks). We know from the start where they stand. Al, however, is the original hypocrite with his claim that money doesn't matter to him, but then he easily sells his soul when Ted drops him the right price. Mike tries to maintain some dignity in the beginning then gives into temptation only to be completely and haplessly swept up in the conflict. The way everyone keeps shaving a ten million dollar cut off the film's budget is hilarious, and goes on until they incidentally bust each other for it. Al's defense against imminent death is to drift even further into the fantasy that he's still in the middle of shooting a film, a frustrating moment for both Ted and the audience. "Are you insane?" Ted asks him. "We are not watching this thing on TV. We are going to die!" It's sad. . . damned sad. . . We watch the world though television and movies, sooner or later the difference between Hollywood and the real thing will meld in an untimely and ugly end.
Enjoyable and stirring, and if you aren't alert when you go into the Alliance, you will be when you leave.

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