Barbara Sutton Masry has a good idea for a play here and an apt title. Unfortunately, her leading character — like those around her — is relentlessly unsympathetic, a middle-aged unsuccessful playwright who reinvents herself as a user of men in a desperate attempt to finally get her work produced. Ultimately, Rewriting Her Life, produced by its author, seems to be a vanity production without vanity.
Lauren Hamburg (played by Sandra Bauleo) returns to her alma mater, the fictionalized Brooklyn University, with a lot of baggage and resentment 20 years out. Ostensibly she is still seeking her first production, but she's also trying to settle scores from her school days and since. First she sleeps with a much younger waiter-writer (Rob Alicea) in hopes of collaborating on the screenplay he's writing. She moves on to an oily theatre professor (Jeff Burchfield) with whom she had a bit of unhappy history; she wants him to put on her stage play on campus. She then hooks up with a wealthy businessman, hoping he'll be her producing angel. Her stock Jewish mother (Anne Yorke) supports her financially but despairs of her career choice and lack of husband. A Polish teaching assistant (Maja Wampuszyc) out-resents the playwright. Another female colleague offers to direct her play, until a paying job comes along.
None of these people is sympathetic or compelling, nor is their situation of sufficient interest to sustain a full-length play. It might work as the comedy it's billed as, but it isn't very funny and isn't played as satire. Director Trezana Beverley has also made some odd directorial choices. In the introductory scene, she has Lauren sitting on the floor, where most of the audience can't see her. Another crucial scene, in a restaurant, is also played out of sight on the floor. The exits, entrances, and scene changes are awkward, although some of this is due to the constraints of the ungrateful space. Of the design team, only Raisy Derzie stands out. Her charcoal sketches of Brooklyn that adorn the walls of the theatre are charming. Ironically, Bauleo manages to make Lauren believable, and Wampuszyc stands out as the TA, although her transition from harridan to helpmeet is too quick and unmotivated to be credible.
Presented by Not Born Yesterday Productions
at the 411 Space @ Times Square Arts Center, 300 W. 43rd St., Ste. 411, NYC.
Nov. 29-Dec. 9; Thu.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m.
(212) 352-3101 or (866) 911-4111 or www.theatremania.com.