When novelist, essayist and screenwriter William Goldman said “nobody knows anything,” what did he mean?
Simply put, a person has to realize that life is a mystery. One cannot go through life counting on past successes or certain relationships to continue as expected. Things and people change and, in order to be successful, people have to accept those changes, work with them and find their own niches in the world.
Philadelphia playwright Bruce Graham used Goldman’s quote as a theme throughout his play, “According to Goldman.” The idea is apparent reflected as the main character struggles to return to the screenwriting acclaim of his past.
Gavin Miller, played by Bruce McCarty, is a screenwriter who has left Hollywood and moved back home to make a better living as a professor at a nearby university. But he cannot let go of the lure and glamour of Hollywood and dreams of fame as a screenwriter.
He collaborates with one of his students, Jeremiah Collins, played by Tobias Segal, who happens to have a great idea for a script based on some of his real-life experiences.
The two work on it together with the hopes of attracting agents and the big boys in Hollywood. Unfortunately, the professor and student have very different ideas for the script and they end up clashing.
While Gavin Miller is preoccupied with his new screenwriting partner and trying to get back into the screenwriting business, his wife Melanie, played by Carmen Roman, basks in her peaceful life away from the hustle-bustle of Hollywood. She tries to help her husband realize he doesn’t need to go back to the extremely difficult screenwriting business in the glamour center of the world and that their life can be wonderful if he continues teaching the subject he loves.
Adding to the entertainment value of “According to Goldman” are comedic lines from the sarcastic character Gavin Miller, dance routines from Jeremiah Collins whose idol is Fred Astaire, music from the 1920s and 1930s, plus clips from old movies such as Miracle on 34th Street.
“The blend of realism and fantasy was the toughest part of the play to pull off, especially the sequences of dancing between talking, because we didn’t want to make it look too corny,” Graham said.
These factors provide nostalgia and comic relief from the main themes of the play. According to Graham these themes are “change, upheaval, business and personal relationships and the fantasy that overwhelms the movie business.”
Performances take stage at the Plays and Players Theatre, located at 1714 Delancey St. The show, running through April 18, will have 8 p.m. performances on Tuesday through Saturday nights. Early curtain performances and matinee times are also available. Tickets range between $30 and $45 depending on the time of the performance. Student discounts are available.
Rachel Compson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org