Moonlight and Magnolias

After firing director George Cukor and fearing that his film Gone With the Wind will never get back on schedule, producer David O. Selznick (Roy Abramsohn) essentially kidnaps brainy screenwriter Ben Hecht (Matt Gottlieb) and macho director Victor Fleming (Brendan Ford), forcing them into captivity with only bananas and peanuts for brain fuel until they come up with a script and a shooting plan. There is a kernel of truth to this tale, but mostly it's a frame for farce as the men hurl insults at one another, interrupted occasionally by ditzy secretary Miss Poppenghul (Emily Eiden). The comedy picks up steam and has the audience rapt when, most interestingly, Roy Hutchinson's play takes a turn that's striking for its intelligence. In extremis of weariness and emotional rawness, the repartee begins to sound like the kind of aesthetic and political discussion so well created for the art world in Yasmina Reza's Art. What originally were jibes about Jews running Hollywood transform into important discussions about power, responsibility and the society of 1930s America. Director Andrew Barnicle overplays the farce, but he skillfully handles the more sober moments, complementing the talents of the fine cast. Bruce Goodrich's handsome set provides the perfect atmosphere — especially as it gets trashed through the week of nonstop artistic agony. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Sun., 2 p.m., Thurs.-Fri., 8 p.m., Sat., Feb. 12, 3 & 8 p.m., through March 6. (818) 558-7000.
Sat., Feb. 5, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 12, 3 & 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 5. Continues through March 6, 2011