SALT LAKE CITY — Another great show at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, The Author’s Voice by Richard Greenberg, is a must-see presented by Local Independent Theatre. It reminded me of Ratatouille and how one person can take credit for another’s work. I loved how the story progressed, culminating with a fantastic ending.
A dry, apathetic man named Todd (played by Spencer Belnap) is living alone in a one-bedroom apartment and seems to have nothing interesting about himself, except his great writing skills. His editor, Portia (played by Sarah Danielle Young) noses her way into the apartment and tries to make a pass at him, but Todd is uninterested. After he walks her out, a dirty man with funny clothes comes out of the closet: Gene (played by Matt Whittaker), the source behind the great writing. When Todd returns, Gene and Todd argue about their arrangement. Todd is claiming ownership of Gene’s writing skills, and throughout the play Todd becomes more and more demanding of Gene.
The only confusing part to me was how when Todd demands that Gene be as quiet as a church mouse, Gene replies, “I AM a church mouse.” The line made me think his dirty outfit with the pointy red hat was a costume to show he was an actual mouse. But then when he went outside he wore Belnap’s coat. Either he was a human-sized mouse, or just a very dirty, ugly man (the latter seeming more likely when Portia screamed in terror at seeing Gene). Really, though, Gene looked like a poor Santa Claus who had been going down the chimney for too many years.
I loved the directing done by Darryl Stamp. There were moments of hilarity, like when Portia climbs on top of Todd when he is lying down and his confused discomfort at not knowing how to react. Another humorous moment occurred when Gene entered from his walk in hat, glasses, and long coat while reading a book. There were also some scary scenes that played out well and helped me see how controlling Todd was towards Gene, which prepped me for the satisfactory ending.
The Author’s Voice is an interesting show that, despite some minor flaws, is one of the better offerings at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival. Many aspects of it are ingenious, and seeing such superb acting and directing made it engaging that gave me lots to think about.