Anne Flanagan's Reva Shine Comedy Award-winning play, Artifice, is at the Bloomington Playwrights Project.
An Artist's Biggest Break: Death
In Artifice, struggling artist Payne Showers, played by Ethan Yazzie-Mintz, finally gets his big break: He dies. Fortunately, his death sends the value of his work skyrocketing. His long suffering widow Maggie (Emily Goodson) must auction it all off to avoid bankruptcy and – yikes! – a mob hit. But as the day of the auction approaches, it becomes clear that reports of Payne's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Playwright Flanagan says of Artifice that, tiring of serious drama, she'd wanted to write a comedy. But it had to be "a well written piece, and one that had good parts for all of the actors. No spear-carriers." Indeed, everyone has more than one moment in the sun in this often very funny show.
Daniel Pietrie is engaging as the nervous gallery manager who seeks comfort in reciting a list of fabrics. Kelsey Sheppard has her moments as the Brooklyn accented, mock French maid clad bar tender. Derrick Krober is always on as an incredibly self-involved soap opera – whoops! – daytime drama actor.
Mary Carol Reardon has a lovely, icy-smooth exterior as a cutthroat newspaper publisher. Gerard Pauwels uses just the right amount of an accent as an Irish real estate broker and art buyer who may or may not have mob connections. Narrow eyed Margot Morgan is an almost serpentine presence as his egghead art critic for hire.
Under the direction of Tom Evans, Artifice is an entertaining and nicely worked-out farce that does get a bit overcrowded in the finale, but never takes itself too seriously.