The Money Shot is an over-the-top satire of Hollywood narcissism

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The Money Shot | MPD Artistic Collective | Studio 1398 | May 2 – 6, 2018

This over-the-top satire of Hollywood narcissism ends in a wrestling match, and there is plenty of verbal wrestling leading up to the big finale.

The play’s title is a “double intenuendo,” as Steve (Michael Patrick Denis) would say. He’s an exaggeration of every single movie star stereotype: he’s an ignorant know-it-all, he doesn’t have much respect for women, and he is as superficial as they come. Along with his much younger wife, Missy (Vivian Tang), who is even more clueless and superficial, they have come to visit Karen (Kate Isaac) and Bev (Lara Amelie Abadir) to discuss a proposed sex scene between Karen and Steve in their upcoming film.

Bev, a film editor, is not pleased with the situation — and she is even less impressed with Steve. But Steve and Karen are desperate for a hit film, so they have brought their partners together to try to come to some kind of agreement about whether the scene is acceptable.

Steve makes all kinds of false claims such as Belgium not being part of Europe. If anyone questions him, his go-to lines are “look it up” or “agree to disagree.” We have all met someone like Steve. Missy is just as bad, if not worse as she talks about being a vegan “except for bacon and pizza,” and she says matter-of-factly, “black babies are cute and all, but I just don’t trust them.” Her best quirk was spraying a fine mist around Steve’s head whenever he got angry. 

Bev is one of those people who is good at everything and is an expert at everything, and she struggles to sit back and let Steve talk nonsense. Karen tries to keep the peace while preparing dinner, and is constantly trying to steer the conversation towards the matter at hand: the sex scene.

With unity of time, place, and action, and a classic structure of spending the whole evening talking about everything but what they came to discuss, Neil Labute’s script makes for an engaging and comedic piece of theatre.   

What would normally be written off as histrionic performances work well in this case as the characters are exaggerated to the extreme to demonstrate the dangers of fame and the importance of not losing yourself. What really holds everything together, though, is the passive-aggressive battle of wits between Bev and Steve that builds until they end up tangled on the floor, fighting for the right to sleep with each other’s spouse.      

By the end of the night, the tables have turned and Steve is left lamenting, “Tonight sucks. And I forgot to tweet.”

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