What a treat it must be to play Miss Lily Darnley, a lying, manipulative, delusional, vodka-swilling Broadway dame, in this play about the making of a 1927 play (now running at Off Broadway?s Lucille Lortel Theatre). And Kristen Johnston (3rd Rock From the Sun) seems to relish every second of it, strutting around the stage in diva-worthy capes and lacy gowns, flicking her hand when she wants to dismiss a company member from her presence or, worse yet, the playwright. The only person who can stand up to Miss Darnley is Kerren-Heppuch Lane (Anna Chlumsky, here virtually unrecognizable as Macaulay Culkin?s childhood love interest from those My Girl movies from 18 years ago), Lily?s understudy whose innocence is severely tested.
The behind-the-scenes goings-on of Miss Darnley?s disastrous opening are only half as interesting as the backstory of the play itself. Written by Maurine Watkins in 1929, So Help Me God! had all but been forgotten until the Mint Theater Company?s director, Jonathan Bank, found it when searching for abandoned plays. It had been headed to Broadway in 1929 until the unfortunate timing of a rewrite request and the stock market crash. Though the current production?s first half has plenty of sharp and witty moments, you have to wonder if the revises requested back in 1929 could have helped the sluggish second act. B
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