Based on a Totally True Story

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April 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

The oft-heard advice for writers is ”Write what you know.” And playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes that to heart in the comedy Based on a Totally True Story. The author, who pens The Sensational Spider-Man at Marvel Comics and turned his play Dark Matters into a script for Warner Bros., has fashioned a show around Ethan (Carson Elrod), a writer caught in a pressure cooker of deadlines while juggling a job writing The Flash comic book and adapting his play for a mercurial Hollywood producer. Adding to Ethan’s stress is an impending breakup with a new boyfriend (Pedro Pascal) and a father (Michael Tucker) asking for help to end a loveless marriage. This semiautobiographical navel gazing might’ve come off as a two-hour therapy session on a pretty set, were it not for the sharp writing and Elrod’s charming, manic turn as Aguirre-Sacasa’s alter-ego. But when the focus shifts from Ethan’s dysfunctional relationships to a commentary on art versus-commerciality, the show veers off track and emerges as a pale imitation of The Player. ”It’s a slightly familiar story,” says Ethan in act 1, ”but that’s okay because nobody likes things that are too original or challenging.” Actually, that’s not totally true. (Tickets: Call 212-581-1212.)

Based on a Totally True Story

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Based on a Totally True Story

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