Seven actors in evening dress are gathered around a sofa in an apartment. The three people seated on the sofa are looking at the New York Times and the four behind them are looking over their shoulders.
The ensemble of It's Only a Play at Saint Sebastian Players Credit: Robert-Eric West

I’m generally not a huge fan of material wherein creative folk in any discipline—theater, film, publishing, music—turn to their own profession for inspiration. If a movie is about filmmaking, or a novel is about a tortured novelist, or a singer crows about how hard life is on the road, I check out pretty quickly. So I was quite pleased and surprised by how relentlessly the genuine laughs flowed in Saint Sebastian Players’s mounting of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play and how engaging the story ultimately was. 

It’s Only a Play
Through 5/21: Fri-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 2 PM, Saint Bonaventure, 1625 W. Diversey, 773-404-7922,, $30 (seniors, students, and children under 12 $25)

Centering on a group of theater folks directly and tangentially involved with the opening night of the long-awaited drama The Golden Egg as they wait for “the reviews”—meaning the New York Times review—to come in, It’s Only a Play presents some hard-bitten folks ultimately questioning why they’ve masochistically ridden the show business roller coaster for so many years.

The script too often falls back on name-dropping for comic effect, and sometimes it feels like none of the characters are edging toward a specific story beat, but Robert-Eric West’s direction makes up for it by keeping things going at a fast clip. Melinda “MJ” Deamon is a hoot as hot-mess actress Virginia Noyes. Danne W. Taylor as disgruntled critic Ira Drew and Valerie Gerlock (a favorite of mine in Saint Sebastian’s Boeing-Boeing last fall) as producer Julia Budder also stood out. Nat Kier comes close to stealing the show as kleptomaniac Frank Finger when, pants pulled down, he stands on a bed filled with coats and recites a demented monologue about his impostor syndrome.