Pride Plays and Films’s It’s Only a Play lacks Broadway star power, but it’s still good fun | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Review

Pride Plays and Films’s It’s Only a Play lacks Broadway star power, but it’s still good fun

Terrence McNally's play is essentially a workplace hangout comedy.


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


The 2014 Broadway revival of Terrence McNally's satirical farce had a cast list so jam-packed with celebrities that it resembled a week's lineup of Ellen guests. Rupert Grint. Megan Mullally. Stockard Channing. F. Murray Abraham. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick™. Part of its presumed fun, for an average $122.86 a ticket, was seeing A-list film and television icons roast familiar backstage stage and screen archetypes, although of course by the end of the night they would extol the virtues of the Great White Way.

Whether or not the profoundly goofy, sharp-as-a-golf-ball broad strokes in It's Only a Play have legs outside that exact context is iffy. The scene is a Broadway opening-night afterparty, where the cynical, self-flagellating creatives and stakeholders behind new play The Golden Egg take turns dodging VIPs by escaping to an upstairs bedroom while frantically awaiting Ben Brantley's New York Times review. Jon Martinez's Pride Films and Plays production doesn't try too hard to resemble the specific, moneyed sector of the Broadway elite at which McNally pokes fun. In this version, in front of a wrinkled window curtain, the thirsty upstart coat boy who is eager to perform unsolicited selections from Wicked for unsuspecting producers looks about the same age as the jaded Dancing With the Stars TV actor he's waiting on.

But at its core, all its airing of grievances included, McNally's play is essentially a workplace hangout comedy (even the Iago-like theater critic gets to tag along for the fun), and Martinez's ensemble, however loosely cast, are agreeable to hang out with—particularly PFP newcomers Sarah Hayes, William Marquez, and Marika Mashburn.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  →