nytheatre.com review by Josh Sherman
July 23, 2008
Daniel Clemens, the playwright protagonist of the sweet romantic comedy Writer's Block, can't quite get over his ex-girlfriend. It might have something to do with the fact that she left him for his meth-addicted brother. It might have something to do with some possible unresolved romantic issues with someone very close to him. Or, it could be a symptom of his utter inability to write a single believable scene that's worth a grain of salt as a follow-up to his award-winning debut play. No matter what the reason, Writer's Block deals with the universality of trying to live up to high expectations while one's head is clouded by the past. And despite its flaws, the warm heart of the play (and some genuine laughs) will win over most audiences.
Writer's Block is written by Shaun Gunning, who also plays Daniel, and he imbues him with much hand-wringing and desperation for easy laughs. His comic foil is his agent Paula, played by the charming Kate Dulcich, who has promised her boss a finished follow-up play to "Triple Threat" within two hours. Daniel has piles of wasted paper stacked up around his apartment, and as he types we see ill-fated scenes played out by the characters from doomed plays. Paula spends her time alternately cajoling and berating Daniel to try to get him to write something—anything—before the deadline so that she gets to keep her job.
Any seasoned theater or filmgoer will see where the romantic plot is going, but director Michael Kimmel maintains a jaunty pace for Writer's Block (a quick 90 minutes) when jumping from scene to scene. The "bad theater" sequences wear thin in spots, to be sure (and Gunning would be wise to take the scissors to portions of the script), but ultimately Gunning makes us care about both Daniel and Paula. Gunning and Dulcich also have some pretty good chemistry between them, which helps a great deal during some of the dead moments. Writer's Block has just enough twists and turns to keep a sweet romance intriguing to the end.