★★★★☆ - Delicious
Looking for something different; in a non-traditional setting? Travel back to November 1924 and take a cruise off the coast of California. “The Cat’s Meow,” by Steven Peros, now in production at The Velveteen Rabbit, does just that.
Under the direction of Troy Heard, the bar is turned into the Oneida, the yacht purchased by William Randolph Hearst in 1922. Heard makes use of the entirety of the establishment, even the bar itself, to dramatize the mystery revolving around the death of Hollywood filmmaker Thomas Harper Ince, one of Hollywood’s earliest scandals.
Hearst (Gary Lunn) and Ince (Tim Cummings) are only two of the real-life people characterized in the two-act play, based on the film of the same name. The plot of the script revolves around the love triangle of Charlie Chaplin (Cory Benway), Marion Davies (Kady Heard), and Hearst.
Chaplin is played with perfect panache by Cory Benway. There’s no posing; this is not an imitation of the silent era comedian, this is the man brought to life. When Benway professes his love for Marion Davies, and makes an impassioned plea for her to return it, it comes from the gut. He plays each scene with absolute honesty, and uses his entire instrument.
The list of guests on the yacht is part verified and part speculation as the rumors swirled around Ince’s death. One such luminary on this particular manifest is Elinor Glyn, a romance novelist, played deliciously coy by Kellie Wright. Wright knows how to deliver